I’m A Free Man Now

Next piece of music up for the Partch analysis is a Faron Young obscurity (in contrast to the well-known “West End Blues”) called “I’m A Free Man Now”. Details of this recording are lost, but it appears to date from 1952, just before the advent of rock ‘n’ roll. Which is appropriate, as this tune is basically a mid-tempo blues with a pronounced drum accompaniment, and electric guitar breaks and fills that would soon crop up on a hundred rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly records to follow. Subtract the steel guitar and country fiddle breaks, and you have would have a pure rockabilly song (if there is such a thing).

As with most blues songs, the vocal line is closely wedded to the accompaniment. Instrumental breaks – the bent notes of the lead electric guitar, the slide guitar glissandos and the expressively sour violin playing – all mimic expressive vocal techniques.

Thus, this is a highly Corporeal song, with only the basic adherence to the conventional 12-bar blues structure suggesting a more abstract formal quality. But even here there is the sense that the structure is strictly a framework for expression, not as an expressive end in itself.

Like many other strands in my musical experience, I came to Faron Young via an unusual circuitous route. In this case, it was a lovely Prefab Sprout song called “Faron Young”…

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