Like a Rolling Stone – 100 Best Songs


Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is Like a Rolling Stone by  Bob Dylan.

This song just doesn’t really do it for me. Maybe I’m neither old enough, nor young enough to really relate to the lyrics or maybe Dylan just isn’t my bag. I found the song to be a bit monotonous to listen to and I just couldn’t connect with the lyrics.



Master the Mandolin – Bluegrass Mandolin for the Complete Ignoramus!


I began my quest to master the mandolin with the book Bluegrass Mandolin for the Complete Ignoramus!

In today’s practice session I played the G scale:

Then I used the G scale to play the first line of Joy to the World:

Then I tackled my first full tune, Amazing Grace:

And finally, Amazing Grace again with some added tremolo:


Imagine – 100 Best Songs


Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is Imagine by John Lennon.

Imagine is a beautiful song in every way. The melody, the piano accompaniment and the message of peace and harmony all combine into a lovely experience for the mind, the ear and the heart.

The song’s message is a simple one, but a somewhat counter-culture one, particularly for a song that ended up being so popular. The song suggests that the world would be a better place without religion, nationality and personal possessions, which are all pillars of modern society.

It’s an interesting scenario to consider. It is hard to picture such a world ever actually existing and if it did, I suspect we’d just find other things to disagree about, but the idea of a peaceful world where everyone gets along is a nice one.

Aside from the message, Imagine is a pleasant song to listen to and sing along with and one that I never tired of hearing.

Master the Mandolin – Curriculum


I started playing the mandolin somewhere around 2002 or 2003. I never had any formal instruction, just a few books and DVDs and a lot of jam sessions. I made some progress, but never really got to the point where I was confident in being able to improvise a solo (or a break to the bluegrassers out there) in a jam session on a song that I hadn’t already been practicing. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t try, I just never really had a lot of success.

For a few years, I was attending jam sessions 3 or 4 nights a week and I even played in 3 or 4 amateur bands and played a few paying gigs, though my role was more as a singer than a mandolin player. Changes in schedule, physical limitations and eventually a cross-country move resulted in my playing time tapering off and then pretty much ceasing completely in 2010 and other than to pick up the instrument and fiddle with it for a few minutes here or there, I haven’t really played in the past 6 years or so.

I’ve decided to make another go of increasing my skill to the point where I feel like I could hold my own in a jam session, rather than just chopping rhythm in the background and occasionally playing a break on the songs I know.

Formal lessons aren’t really in the budget, so I’m going to start this effort off by working my way through the various instructional materials I have acquired, but not spent much time with over the years. I have tried to organize the materials into categories, based on how advanced they are.

There is some overlap, as some courses cover both beginning and intermediate topics or intermediate and advanced, etc. Also, in some cases I’m kind of guessing what level they are aimed at, so don’t take this as a 100% accurately categorized list. I have placed the books that aren’t specifically for mandolin in the advanced category, not necessarily because of the difficulty of the material, but because they will require taking techniques written for a different instrument and translating them to the mandolin.


  1. Bluegrass Mandolin for the Complete Ignoramus!
  2. Teach Yourself Bluegrass Mandolin
  3. Bluegrass Mandolin
  4. Mike Marshall’s Mandolin Fundamentals For All Players, Vol. 1
  5. Mike Marshall: Mandolin Fundamentals, Vol. 2
  6. All About Lead Mandolin by Sam Bush
  7. All About Rhythm Mandolin by Sam Bush
  8. Mel Bay’s Mandolin Chords
  9. The Mandolin Chord Book
  10. Mandolin Ear Training Course by Brad Davis


  1. The Mandolin Of Bill Monroe, Vol. 1: One On One With The Master
  2. The Mandolin Of Bill Monroe, Vol. 2
  3. Intermediate Mandolin: The Complete Mandolin Method
  4. The Sam Bush Mandolin Method
  5. Mandolin Technique Studies by Matt Raum
  6. Bluegrass Up the Neck by Niles Hokkanen
  7. Hal Leonard Fretboard Roadmaps Mandolin
  8. Fiddle Tune Method for Modern Mandolin by Thomas Ohmsen
  9. John McGann’s Developing Melodic Variations on Fiddle Tunes
  10. Pete Wernick: Intermediate Bluegrass Jam Session
  11. Complete Idiot’s Guide to Solos and Improvisation


  1. Mandolin Master Class by Brad Laird
  2. Mastering Mandolin: The Complete Mandolin Method
  3. Music Theory for Modern Mandolin by Thomas Ohmsen
  4. Hot Licks for Bluegrass Fiddle
  5. The Fiddler’s Fakebook

I Want to Hold Your Hand – 100 Best Songs

I Want to Hold Your Hand

Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles.

Many of The Beatles songs that made the top 100 list are introspective ballads. I Want to Hold Your Hand is a bouncy fun, squeaky-clean, love song that you can dance to.

The rhythm gets you tapping your feet and bobbing your head straight away. The lyrics are memorable and easy to sing along to. The song seems hopelessly square by today’s standards, but it’s still a fun sing-along type song. Not my favorite Beatles tune, but it does have the quality of a timeless classic.

I Heard it Through the Grapevine – 100 Best Songs

I Heard it Through the Grapevine

Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is I Heard it Through the Grapevine, originally released by Gladys Knight And The Pips.

I Heard it Through the Grapevine has been covered by many artists over the years, with well-known versions being released by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles:

and possibly the best known and most loved version by Marvin Gaye:

and of course there was the version by The California Raisins that introduced a whole new generation to the song back in the 80’s.

The Gladys Knight version has a funky dance beat to it and features the patented call and response backing of the Pips. You can really hear how Motown era R&B influenced modern rock music on this track. Gladys’ vocal would sound right at home on a classic rock track or a modern throwback album.

The Smokey Robinson version features a thumping bass and a smoother, more jazzy vocal. You could still dance to this tune, but it doesn’t have the peppy sound to it that Gladys’ version has. The song seems a poor match for Smokey’s almost delicate voice. He sounds like he’s straining to be heard over the music through much of the song.

Marvin Gaye’s version has a similar backing track to Robinson’s but the vocal has much more power and raw emotion. It’s easy to understand why this version has become such a classic. Instead of a peppy dance number, Gaye’s version sounds like a man in pain because he has found out his woman has been running around and plans to leave him. The song is still catchy and peppy, but it’s also raw and emotional.

I must admit, my first introduction to this tune was through the animated musical group The California Raisins, who’s television commercials made them a huge 80’s fad sensation for a time. The Raisins were everywhere for a while. They had CDs, toys and I think even a Saturday morning cartoon, before eventually fading back into obscurity.

As much as I loved the Raisins back in the day, I’m going to have to go with the Marvin Gaye version as my favorite and a worthy entry into the 100 Best Songs of All Time.


God Only Knows – 100 Best Songs

Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is God Only Knows by The Beach Boys.

I’m not much of a fan of The Beach Boys. There’s just something about their overall sound that does not appeal to me. This song really isn’t an exception.

I found it to be rather sleepy sounding and the lyric, which seems to basically be about how life wouldn’t be worth living without the singer’s lover, wasn’t that interesting to me.

I’m sure the people who think this is one of the greatest songs ever have their reasons, but it wouldn’t make my personal list.

Gimme Shelter – 100 Best Songs

Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones.

Much like All Along the Watchtower, Gimme Shelter is a song that evokes imagery of the Vietnam War era. The message of the song is essentially, “make love, not war.”

While I do like the message of the song, what really makes this song one of my favorites, is the driving rock beat, with a touch of psychedelic overtones, the raw emotion of the lyric and vocal and Jagger’s pure rock swagger.

It’s a song that both makes me want to dance and start a revolution. Unfortunately, the message is just as relevant today as it was back in the late 60’s.

Every Breath You Take – 100 Best Songs

Next up on my list of the 100 Best Songs of all time, is The Police’s ode to stalking Every Breath You Take.

The Police are another one of those “soundtrack to my childhood” artists. I remember hearing this song constantly on the radio when I was a kid and seeing the video on MTV.

In spite of the stalkery lyrics, which express the desires of a man, apparently obsessed with either a former lover or a woman (presumably), who never returned his affections, to obsessively “watch” the object of his obsession, this song has been a favorite of mine for a long time.

The lyric is creepy and the vocal is at times longing and at times menacing. The whole thing is backed with a signature bass beat and instantly recognizable melody.

While I’m certainly no proponent of stalking, the song evokes the emotion many of us have experienced of being completely obsessed with someone we can’t have, in spite of how much we might feel we were “meant” to be with them.