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Performance Tip No 5

I think two of the most important things in the effective performance of a song are empathy and imagination. Empathy with the lyrics and the sentiment and the feel and intent of the music and how it affects you. Imagination so that you can place yourself inside the pictures the song creates and evoke the emotions required to temper the performance with the light and shade that bring a song to life. I listened recently to Jerry Jeff Walker sing Mr Bojangles. It's a great song and one I used to sing a lot in my coffee shop days. It has been done by so many people. Jerry wrote it and his version is great but for me the definitive version is Dave Bromberg's. You really can see the old man through his eyes. I've started singing the song again and I am so infuenced by Dave's performance. I can see Mr Bojangles in the cell talking the Jerry Jeff. It's gentle and sad and a little whimsical. When I sing 16 tons, I see dirt and hard work and bloody mindedness and the swing of the hammer and pick. That drives the rythym. When I sing Poor Boy's Delight I see a young awkward farm boy in his ill fitting Sunday suit at the local dance screwing up his courage to ask the prettiest girl their to dance. The lyrics are gentle and hesitant. Put yourself there. If you can't then don't do that song. It's that simple


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