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Learning songs on my banjo: Viva Las Vegas

Posted by jrjenks on Monday, November 16, 2009

Viva Las Vegas with your neon flashin' / And your one-arm bandits crashin' / All those hopes down the drain

Hello, J.R.

Hello, imaginary interviewer. How you doin'.

TCB, thankyouvermuch. What banjo song are you learning right now?

Viva Las Vegas, music by Mort Shuman and lyrics by Doc Pomus.

Why are you learning Viva Las Vegas?

I'm going to Las Vegas for G2E and I'm taking my banjo. How could I not learn Viva Las Vegas for this trip?

What recordings do you have of Viva Las Vegas?

  1. Of course I've got Elvis Presley singing it with The Jordanaires doing backup vocal. It's the 2007 remastered version from the album Elvis - Viva Las Vegas, played at 144 BPM in the key of G.

    You can take your pick of YouTube videos featuring Elvis. Either black & white Elvis...



    ...or colorized Elvis.

  2. I've also got The Grascal's self-titled debut album, which has Dolly Parton joining them on a bluegrass Viva Las Vegas. At 148 BPM it's just a touch faster than Elvis' version. They also sing it in G.
  3. You can watch them perform at CMA Music Fest:

What tab arrangements do you have?

None. I'm taking it as a challenge to dope out this one without resorting to tablature. I did look the chords up. It's a your basic I-IV-V song with a VIm thrown in and a II for the bridge:

Intro (4 measures):
G - - - |

Verse:
G - - - | - - - - |
Em- - - | - - |

Chorus:
C G C G |

Bridge:
C - - G - |
C - - A - - - |

Ending (Extended chorus):
C G C G | C G C D | G - - - ||

What's your target performance speed?

144 BPM, just like Elvis. Because, of course! So I'm going to have to work up to a practice speed of 172 in order to follow the practice-at-20%-faster rule.

In what key?

G.

Which lyrics are you learning?

The only ones there are: the Elvis lyrics.

Anything else you'd like to tell me about this song?

I'll post some licks here when I work them up.

Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog
Cross-posted at J.R.'s Banjo Hangout blog


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