Pigpen Solos

According to Ihor Slabicky's discography:
Pigpen recorded several songs for an album which never was released. These include "C.C. Rider" and "Bring Me My Shotgun", recorded in 1970. In February, 1973, he recorded a Lightning Hopkins song, "She's Mine", as well as "I Believe", "Like A Long Time", and "Michael", at his apartment in Corte Madera, CA. ... Another song, intended for the solo album, was the Clancy Carlile song "I'm A Loving Man", which was recorded in 1969 at Pacific High Recording, located on Brady Alley just off Market, in San Francisco. ... The album was to be released, tentatively, on Mercury, or its Smash subsidiary, with Bob Serempa as the A&R person.
Many of these songs have been given different names over the years, and circulate in all sorts of fragments and orderings. The most common tape in circulation has the following songs (with alternative titles in brackets):
I Got Two Women (Two Women)
Michael (Poor Michael Went Down, Queen Of Santa Fe II, Gas Station Rap)
Katie Mae
Baby Please Don't Go (New Orleans)
That Freight Train, Up In The Sky (That Train)
Untitled instrumental
Bring Me My Shotgun
C.C.Rider
Katie Mae (repeat)
Hitch Hiking Woman
I Got Two Women (repeat)
When I Was A Boy (Santa Fe Queen, Queen Of Santa Fe I)
Bring Me My Shotgun (repeat)
...
I Believe (The Devil In My Bones)
She's Mine
Like A Long Time (Look Over Yonder, No Tomorrow, No Time)
...
Sweet Georgia Brown (instrumental, with Jorma Kaukonen)
Betty And Dupree (with Jorma Kaukonen)
I'm A Loving Man circulates separately, often with Buckeye's Theme and with outtakes from Workingman's Dead/American Beauty

It appears from Ihor's discography and other sources that the bulk of the songs were recorded around 1970 (though they are sometimes wrongly dated as 1966). They are often labelled as "Appartment Demo," "Pigpen Studio Demos" or "Pigpen Acoustic Demos." "I Believe," "She's Mine" and "Looks Like A Long Time" come from 1973; and "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Betty and Dupree" are from a recording with Jorma Kaukonen from 1964.

Other Tapes etc

One version of this material was issued as a bootleg LP under the title "Bring Me My Shotgun." This had tracks:
C.C.Rider
Guitar instrumental
Bring Me My Shotgun
Hitch Hiking Woman
Piano riff
I Got Two Women
Santa Fe Queen
Gas Station Rap
Hobo Jungle Rap
The Deadhead's Taping Compendium Volume 1 lists a tape (dated ??/70) which seems to be a more complete version of these recordings. It has a track list:
C.C.Rider
Instrumental (x4)
Bring Me My Shotgun
Katie Mae
Bring Me My Shotgun (take 2)
Hitch Hiking Woman
Piano riff
I Got Two Women
Santa Fe Queen
Gas Station Rap
Hobo Jungle Rap
Passing Through
Easy Rider
Black Powder Rag (note 1)
In The Still Of The Night
Big Boy Pete
Notes
(1) not listed in the Deadhead's Taping Compendium (except as "Following a brief rap ..."). A very short spoken word lyric

The Deadhead's Taping Compendium gives the following account of the additional tracks at the end of the tape:
"The folk motif continues with "Hobo Jungle Rap," a simple one-chord monologue in which Pigpen describes his first encounters with local hobos. After dissolving quickly as a song, the monologue continues as a spoken word narration. In it, Pigpen talks briefly about his first experiences hopping freight trains, adding a sweet lick from his guitar here and there. Much to our dismay, however, the tape breaks off prematurely.

"Following the tape flip, the subsequent two tracks are disturbingly haunting. All the preceding selections are based around traditional blues and folk approaches, but these songs are derived from a deeper spiritual influence, remotely similar to that of Charlie Patton or Son House. Vocally, these are emotionally harrowin, and the musical approach is dark, almost occultish. "Passing Through," while admittedly not a very dynamic selection and further hampered by feedback blasts, is a chilling tale of weary travel, with loneliness and despondency prevailing. "Easy Rider," which at the outset sounds distinctly similar to the Rolling Stones' "Sister Morphine," is only slightly less morbid lyrically but far eerier in execution. Unlike "Passing Through," which is delivered from an emotional and perhaps autobiographical approach, this tune is presented in the form of a narrative, focussed intently on setting as well as character.

"Following a brief rap, the tape concludes with a fragmentary and comic attempt at the fifties sock hop classic, "In The Still Of The Night," complete with teen idol falsetto, before the finale of "Big Boy Pete," which is playful and immature."
Note that this tape doesn't include "That Train" or "Baby Please Don't Go," so there are still unknowns about what was recorded when.

1973 recordings

The 1973 fragment of
I Believe
She's Mine
No Tomorrow
circulates with a variety of dates. It is sometimes listed as "Pigpen's Final: Recorded 3/9/1973," which can't be right because Pigpen died on 8 March. I've also seen it dated as February 1973 and as 5 March 1973.

The Deadhead's Taping Compendium also lists a 1973 tape with the following track list:
Playhouse
Walkin' Blues
Driving Wheel
Kansas City
Kansas City (take 2)
St Louis Women
Bluebird
My Property
So Long (No Tomorrow)
The description of the tape is:
"This tape contains a mixture of traditional blues and extraordinary ballads, all executed solo by Pigpen at the piano. From the opening notes of "Playhouse," the listener is grabbed by the authenticity of the delivery. Passionate, soulful, and remarkably melodic are Pigpen's vocals, giving the track a distinctive pre-World War II feel. "Walkin' Blues," which actually only contains one verse from Robert Johnson's definitive version, begins as a boogie-woogie stomp, but restarts as a common-time shuffle. Finding a comfortableniche, Pigpen showcases his improvisational skills by taking several liberties with the lyrics and masterfully adlibbing several verses of his own. The instrumentation contains more than several shaky sports, but they are greatly overshadowed by the vocal delivery. The following "Driving Wheel" is uncessarily brief, lasting only two verses, thus remaining disappointingly unremarkable. In contrast, Pigpen's interpretation of the classic "Kansas City" is a barrelhouse stomp from start to finish. Instrumentally, Pigpen chops at this with the rhythm of a choo-choo, and the tune is further complemented by vocals that are as sweet as a honey bee's nectar. On the second take, Pigpen uses the intrumental break to nochanlantly shift to "St Louis Women," which is considerably saltier in execution, and certainly more characteristic of the Pigpen we're accustomed to. Unfortunately, the tape then breaks off midverse."

"Side B begins with "Bluebird," a soulful, albeit extremely erratic, selection. Pigpen's attack on the verse is done with the passion of James Brown, filled to the brim with soul and emotion. However, the refrain is unusually lethargic, slower in tempo and noticeably less enthusiastic in delivery. The pattern repears itself again on the second verse and refrain, although considerably less severe, before dissolving abruptly.

"My Property" is musically identical to the following "So Long (No Tomorrow)," similar in somberness but lyrically far less dreary. Like the preceding "Bluebird," this selection dissolves prematurely.

"The tape concludes with "No Tomorrow," a deeply sad and introspective ballad. This could arguably be considered Pigpen's swan song, with its haunting melody and frighteningly forboding lyrics. The instrumentatism is classic melancholy, and eloquent throughout. Even so, it is far overshadowed by the moving emotion displayed in Pigpen's vocals. Crying out "Don't make me live in this pain no longer / You know I'm getting weaker not stronger," it is as though the performer awakens through the music to the realisation of the final curtain that lurks momentarily, leaving the listener with a touch of sadness deep and removed."

1963-64 recordings

There are also some fragments recorded at Pigpen live performances in 1963-64.

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan and the Second Story Men, at the Top of the Tangent, in 1963
McKernan's Blues
Rocky Mountain Blues
Pigpen McKernan and Rodney Albin at the Top of the Tangent in 1964:
John Henry
Hoochie-Coochie Man
Pigpen and Jorma at the Top of the Tangent in 1964:
Sweet Georgia Brown (instrumental)
Betty And Dupree
The instrumental version of "Sweet Georgia Brown" is Jorma solo, I believe. "Betty and Dupree" ("Diamond Rag Blues" on some tapes) is Jorma on guitar and vocals and Pigpen on harp.

Pigpen played in a band called the Zodiacs in 1963, with Tro Weidenheimer on lead guitar and Bill Kreutzmann on drums and sometimes with Jerry Garcia on bass. No tapes exist, but the songs they played included Searchin', Walkin' The Dog, Sensation, San-Ho-Zay, Hideaway, and various Jimmy Reed tunes.

Pigpen also played with other members of the Grateful Dead in Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions.

See also the reference to a song Pigpen wrote called Roaches In My Frying Pan.


 


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