Bob Dylan "I shall be released" which chords

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Tybalt66, May 4, 2016.

  1. Tybalt66

    Tybalt66 Member

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    Hi,

    I am preparing this song for our band and I am wondering which chord or chords you use over "shall be" at the end of the chorus. We like to play it in A as Crissie Hynde does, she plays an E chord there. I watched many version on youtube and everybody plays it different. So how is the "official" chord progression?
     
  2. old goat

    old goat Member

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    I'd call this version with Dylan and the Band the "official" one, in E. Maybe someone with sharper eyes than can see what the chord is. What I'm hearing is A over the "shall" and B/A with the 5th string muted over the "be". (hope that's the right nomenclature). It may be that the guitars stay with the A chord, while the bass plays a B note.
     
  3. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    It's always been in E for me.

    The simple way to play it from memory (and without my guitar) is E - F#min - G#min - A - B - E.

    I'm sure someone can qualify or discount that if wrong.
     
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  4. Jacob Van Noy

    Jacob Van Noy Member

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    I've always played it as a 4 chord with the 5 in the bass. In E that would be an A/B. Gives the feel of the dominate chord but with a more smooth and suspended sound.
     
  5. old goat

    old goat Member

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    I believe that's true for all the lines in the verse and the first line of the chorus, but the second line of the chorus substitutes the A/B for the B.

    Yep--A/B not B/A--I can never remember whether the bass note is indicated first or second.
     
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  6. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Always the second.

    It's A 'over' B.
     
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  7. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Take your pick:
    http://dylanchords.info/34_bootleg/i_shall_be_released.htm
    The Last Waltz version is not included there, although it's clearly in E, like the Budokan.
    Dylan obviously didn't think of any of them as the "right" one - they were all "right" at the time.

    What I hear in the Last Waltz Version (FWIW) is the bass moving from A to B on "shall be" (1 beat A, 3 beats B), and just a B7 chord on "be", possibly B9 (with D# and C# in it). But the vocal does slip down to E, implying the sus4.
     
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  8. JonR

    JonR Member

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    That's right for the chorus (essentially).
    In the verse in the Last Waltz video, you clearly see Dylan playing an F#m chord both times: |E - - - |F#m - - - |G#m - F#m - |E - - - |.
    Meanwhile the bass, on the G#m-F#m bar, runs up G#-A-B, and not always with the same rhythm (sometimes G#-A-B-B, sometimes G#-G#-A-B). So you get an F#m/B effect, which (to be pedantic) is B7sus2 (B9 without the D#, but no sus4 either).
    (You can't see what he does in the chorus, or what any of the guitarists are doing, although an occasional back view suggests 5th and 7th fret versions of A and B.)

    Then again, in this version (in Bb) -

    - you can clearly hear the last chord in the chorus as F7sus4, both times (on "west down..." and on "shall be...")

    So, like I say: take your pick. ;)

    Personally I like the sus chord (ie the A/B in key of E), it enhances the gospel feel.
     
  9. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    I've always wondered with the Last Waltz version if what we're seeing is what we're hearing, given we know that the audio track was heavily edited and multiple overdubs were added. I wonder how much of Dylan's guitar is actually in the mix that we're hearing?
     
  10. Blanket Jackson

    Blanket Jackson ¿Qué Hiciste? Silver Supporting Member

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    Great site! Thanks
     
  11. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Very little, I suspect. But I doubt the other players would have been doing anything that didn't fit. There would have been at least a brief rehearsal with all those musicians, a swift check they all knew the chords more or less the same - with Dylan presumably the MD (or possibly Robbie Robertson).
    For the verse, they may well have decided that it worked well for the guitars to play F#m while the bass played B (or A and B).
    For the chorus, whether "that" chord is B, B7, B9, F#m/B, A/B, makes little difference in the end - at least not for only a couple of beats beneath the choral mush of all those voices. It's a dominant chord, with a variety of possible tensions.
    The way Dylan treats it (as he does with all his songs in fact) is more like a jazz musician would: there is no one "ideal" or "original" version. There is just the version you want to play tonight. You can decide whether you want to play it like last time, or the time before that, or do it different. After all, the core of the song is strong: it's unmistakably "I Shall Be Released", whatever that chord is. (It's so strong he can even change some lyrics, and mess with the melody; that's his genius as a songwriter: a simple basic core for a song, open to variation without losing its identity.)
     
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  12. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Exactly. Just ask Ringo after playing tambourine for the Dlyan set at the Concert for Bangladesh. For the first show Dylan played one of the songs (can't recall which one) in 4/4, then decided to play it in 3/4 for the evening show. This was without telling the others.
     
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  13. Tybalt66

    Tybalt66 Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions, I understand that there are many options. We like to play it in A and so I think we will try the following:

    Verse:
    A - Bm - C#m - Bm - A (2x)

    Chorus:
    A - Bm - C#m - Bm - A
    A - Bm - C#m - D9 - A

    with the D9 over "shall be". I am not shure about the name of the chord, it is a D chord with an added E (or its an Asus or something)

    E--2---
    B--3---
    G--2---
    D--2----
    A--0----
    E--x----

    That sounds pretty good to me, we will see how it works out in full Band context at our next reheashal.
     
  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Top part of the chord is great, but much better with an E bass, IMO - the E bass is (literally!) fundamental on that chord. (In the original, in all versions, it's a V7 chord of some kind; it's the extensions that are optional.)
    It can have an A in the chord, but not that low (you already have an A on 3rd string). A better version would be this:

    E9sus4
    E--2--- = 9
    B--3--- = b7
    G--2--- = sus4
    D--2--- = R
    A-(2)-- = 5 - optional note
    E--0--- = R

    It's a kind of Bm7/E, or (without that 5th string note) D/E - and I think an E bass would sound good under the Bm on the first line of the chorus too.

    Your choice naturally!
     
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  15. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    As @JonR pointed out just think of it as a V chord. The thing that makes it the gospel feel is that V chord as 9th sus4. As for the voicing whenever possible I try to leave the root to the bass player and just play the upper parts of the chord.
     
  16. old goat

    old goat Member

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    Good point. So I would call the official version the one on Big Pink, since it was the first recording. Listening to it again I believe "shall" and "be" are both A, but it sounds like a chord change because the bass note changes--not sure what notes Danko is playing though.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2016
  17. Guitardave

    Guitardave Supporting Member

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    Bass players have all the power...the chord is always whatever they want it to be. That A major triad can just as easily be an A major, B9sus4 or F#min7 to name a few.
     
  18. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    Check out the Jack Johnson version too ... nice arrangment.
     
  19. JonR

    JonR Member

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    True. The bass changes it from a IV (or a ii) to a V. Vsus maybe, but still V.
     
  20. cameron

    cameron Member

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    Interesting how last week's chord progression discussion was about a song where the guitar/horns change chords while the bass keeps pedaling a single note, and this week's discussion is about a song where the guitar chord stays the same while the bass moves the root around.

    Such simple little arrangement tricks definitely make a song more interesting, or at least discussion-worthy. A little bit of ambiguity goes a long way.
     

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