When You Wore a Tulip


Plucking along with Fahey

This is a write-up on John Fahey's song, When You Wore a Tulip!

He recorded this more than once; this write-up is based on the Dance of Death version, released in 1965.

It's in the key of C, Standard tuning EADGBE.

Transcription of Fahey's playing

To get started, here's a bird's-eye view of Fahey's playing.

This is what you could play, and the parts are broken down in the next sections!

Dance of Death version.

Form of the song:

  • A
  • A
  • B
  • B
  • C1
  • C2
  • C3
  • C1
  • C2
  • C3
  • B
  • B

Next, ionto those strings & riffs.

Section A / Part 1 of 4

the Opening F chord

The song begins on the F/IV chord, since the root of the song is in the key of C.

The alternating bass (1st fret of the 6th string) is fretted with the thumb of the fretting-hand, wrapped around the neck.

Also, the bend is written as 'full' (for the 3rd fret of the 2nd string), but it's more like a half-step at most.

Section A / Part 2 of 4

the E7 chord

From the F/IV chord, Fahey now switches into the E7/III7 chord.... the I-III7 / C-E7 chord change is used in songs such as Pallet On the Floor, I Wish I Knew, and Lonesome Road Blues.

This uses the very common hammer-on into the 1st fret of the 3rd-string, alternating bass on the 6th and 4th strings.

Section A / Part 3 of 4

Returning to the C

It's only at this point in the song that Fahey plays the C-root/tonic of the song.

Notably, he varies the bass-line; it's not just a basic alternating bass-line. This gives him a unique sound!

Section A / Part 4 of 4

the Turnaround

Now, this is onto the turnaround. Fahey plays an F-G7-C turnaround, which is a IV-V-I turnaround.

Note: Elizabeth Cotten plays the same ending in the song Honey Babe Your Papa Cares for You

That ending, with the varying 2nd/3rd strings with the descending bassline, is devilish to play, but rewarding to learn.

Section B / Part 1 of 3

Starting the Barres

This is now onto the next section of the song; the B-section.

It can be remembered for mostly having a 6th-string major-barre chord shape, shifted up/down the fretboard.

It's the same deal for the fretting-hand's thumb -- it wraps around the neck to grab the 1st fret of the bottom E-string!

Section B / Part 2 of 3

the First Ending

It's still the B-section here. Fahey shifts that 6th-string barre chord shape down to the 3rd-fret, playing the G7.

That G7 is a "V" to the Cmaj "I" (the name for this is a 'secondary dominant' to transition into the Cmaj), and in fact Fahey leads the G7 into the Cmaj chord in open-position.

Section B / Part 3 of 3

the Second ending

Finally, to end the B-section, Fahey plays this ending also.

Again, his target chord is the Fmaj, and to transition into it, Fahey uses a 'secondary dominant'... if the Fmaj is the "I", then the C7 is the "V7", so the C7 leads into the Fmaj

Now, it's onto the final stretch -- the 'C' section!

Section C / Part 1 of 5

Back to the C chord

Ever the attention-to-detailist, Fahey begins the C-section with not just a normal Cmaj type of bassline, but one that drops down to the 6th-string.

There's also a tricky hammer-on to play. One way to catch it is to flatten the full, final digit of the middle finger, so it lands into the 2nd-fret of the 3rd-string.

Section C / Part 2 of 5

Moving to the IV chord

Next, to Fahey makes the chord change from the Cmaj to the Fmaj. This is the usual I-IV chord movement. It's another 'secondary dominant'.. the Fmaj is the 'target', and the "V7" is the "C7".

Section C / Part 3 of 5

the 1st ending

For this song, there are 3-endings for the C-section.

The way he plays it is -- *plays Section C: part 1, part 2, ending1..... part 1, part 2, ending 2...... part 1, part 2, ending 3....." <-- repeat that whole chunk once more

This is the first-ending here; it goes from the IV-V7-I -- Fmaj-G7-Cmaj

Section C / Part 4 of 5

the 2nd ending

This is the second-ending. It's another cascade of 'secondary dominants'... the D7 to the G7 (which then leads to the Cmaj)... the D7 is the V7 for the G... and the G7 is the V7 for the Cmaj.

Section C / Part 5 of 5

the 3rd ending

Lastly, this is the 3rd-ending which Fahey plays. Luscious to say the least!

It's a piecing-together of multiple prior sections, such as the E7, the Fmaj, the D7, and so on.

That's it for new 'licks' in When You Wore a Tulip!


Wrapping up this tune

That's it for When You Wore a Tulip! The great tune from the Dance of Death album.

You'll always find a stream of Fahey write-ups here! Thank you for visiting.

Posted by blah148

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