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Nervous Breakdown

Genre: Bluegrass  Style: Bluegrass (Scruggs)   Key: G  Tuning: Standard Open G (gDGBD)  Difficulty: Intermediate
Posted by corcoran, updated: 4/1/2020
Download: TABLEDIT

Notes: In this stressful time of a pandemic, why not learn a tune with a topical title, “Nervous Breakdown.” The tune was written and recorded in the mid-1960s by Bob Johnson on the album “Twelve Shades of Bluegrass” by Bob Johnson and the Lonesome Travelers. All I have been able to find out about Bob Johnson is that he was from Chattanooga, TN, he played for a short while with Bill Monroe – see the tape circulating among collectors of the Blue Grass Boys at Bean Blossom, 13 April 1958 – and he retired from music in 1967. You can hear Johnson’s recording of Nervous Breakdown on Bob Black also recorded it on his delightful album “Ladies on the Steamboat.” Nervous Breakdown has an odd but appealing chord structure, and I have somewhat arbitrarily broken it into 2 parts, A and B


waystation Says:
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 @2:55:18 PM
I used to play this with a band in the 70s. I have the album, which is called "Ten Shades of Bluegrass". There are no liner notes, but the mandolin playing on the original is by Norman Blake, who tuned the two low pairs of strings in octaves, in the style of a 12-string guitar. Lots of innovation on that album.

corcoran Says:
Wednesday, April 1, 2020 @3:10:42 PM
Thanks for the comment, Rich. You prompted me to revisit the album cover on youtube, and it turns out the title was actually “Twelve Shades of Bluegrass.” But really, what’s a difference of two shades among friends!

waystation Says:
Saturday, April 4, 2020 @9:32:42 AM
Wow, they must have put out two versions. The title of mine is actually "Ten Shades of Bluegrass", and it has ten songs on it. It's Wyncote W9097. Side 1 - The Old Cane Press - Nervous Breakdown - Let The Wheeling Go - Stir The Pudding - Bluegrass Fiddler Side 2 - Darling Nellie Gray - I Don't Love Nobody - Fire In the Hearth - Auld Lang Syne - Five String Frolic Do you have two extra songs?

corcoran Says:
Saturday, April 4, 2020 @3:17:17 PM
I do not have the album. Nervous Breakdown is on youtube, and it is accompanied by a photo of the album cover, which is entitled “Twelve Shades of Bluegrass.” Someone also recently posted the complete album on youtube, with all twelve tracks. So I guess there must have been two versions, as you suggest.

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