Author: American/English Traditional
Date/Studio: 2013 Synergy, Port Townsend, WA
Engineer: Neville Pearsall
Producer: Robert Force
Original Release: Did You (BSR151)
Current Release: Did You (BSR151)
I recorded this well-known English hymn when I was 64 years old. Although I had been playing, singing and performing it for my entire musical life I wanted to take a song people already knew and play so folks could hear the tune as they hear it in their head and also hear how I hear it. Each time I play it is somewhat different. For me, this is a living tune that constantly changes with our times and circumstances. The recording on the Did You CD was done “one-take” with no overdubs.
In the early 1970s, during the five years I spent hitchhiking nearly 300,000 miles across the country, my rule was never to listen to music that wasn't being played live. No radio. No records or cassettes or (remember!) 8-tracks. That was the way I learned tunes. Teach it to me! For years I knew there was a verse that said something about “ten-thousand years” but did not know what it was.
One day outside of Portland, Oregon I was picked up by a group of young Christians on their way home from a retreat. I asked them if they knew that verse. None did. They took me to their church a hundred miles or so up the road toward Chehalis, WA and we looked it up in a hymnal. I figured that was close enough.
You will hear in my version that I open up the (for me, epiphanous) “ten thousand years” verse with pauses interspersed with quick runs and an overall slowing of the tune. That's what I call letting it breathe. That's appropriate for a living song.
For those of you looking for tablature for this tune, I am sure you will find it somewhere out there on the net for whatever instrument you are playing. In my recorded interpretation I only played through four verses. When I sing it I always come in late after the chords changes have been introduced. The recorded version is more of an accompaniment than it is a melody to follow. The modified, mixed up personal lyrics that run through my heart are:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see.
That precious day when Grace appeared, the hour I first believed
t'was Grace that taught my heart to fear and Grace my fears relieved.
Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come.
It was Grace that brought me safe this far and Grace will lead me home.
When we've been here ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise then when we first begun.