Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tom Rush: No Regrets

It’s not very often that I feature an American folksinger on Traditional Tuesday’s, but the other night I reacquainted myself with a true American original – Tom Rush. I have exactly two Tom Rush LPs: “The Circle Game” from 1968 on Elektra and “Ladies Love Outlaws” from 1974 on Columbia. Both LPs contain different renditions of his signature tune about love lost (& love get lost) – “No Regrets.”

The two versions have different arrangements of the same tune with the 1974 more heavily produced on the album that has more of a country and not folk feel to it. Carly Simon sings a duet with Tom on that version. I prefer the sparsely produced version from “The Circle Game.” I also like that album better as it is more of what I expect out of a singer like Rush. The later album does have some great tunes like “Hobo’s Mandolin” and “Desperados Waiting for A Train” that I like.

Today’s incarnation is even less produced than “The Circle Game’s” recording. It features Tom alone with his Epiphone Texan guitar playing and singing a more recent rendition in a fashion as one might expect from someone who is primarily known as a folk singer.

The unique sound emanating from his guitar is largely due to the fact that he has tuned it to an open C. The low C note, putting the guitar in the range of a ‘cello, gives it a distinctive sound on the bass as it rattles as the string flaps against the fretboard unnaturally due to a lack of tension. His slack key tuning is from low to high: C G C G C E. Two strings, the G and E, are at pitch; the B string is the only one raised a semitone to C; the A and D are dropped a whole step, while the low C is two steps below standard tuning.

”No Regrets” video

From the album “The Circle Game,” Tom produced a video for this song. Shot on 16mm film, the optical sound from the film is pretty scratchy due to numerous plays.


The film, like many color prints and slides from that era, has faded with age. Since there isn’t a good quality version from the 1968 album on YouTube, this one must suffice. By the way, the cover for “The Circle Game” was shot by photographer Linda Eastman who became better known as Mrs. Paul McCartney.


I know your leavin's too long overdue
For far too long I've had nothin' new to show to you
Goodbye dry eyes I watched your plane
Fade off west of the moon
And it felt so strange to walk away alone

No regrets, no tears goodbye
Don't want you back, we'd only cry, again
Say goodbye, again

The hours that were yours, echo like empty rooms
The thoughts we used to share, I now keep alone
I woke last night and spoke to you,
Not thinking you were gone
It felt so strange to lie awake, alone

No regrets, no tears goodbye
Don't want you back, we'd only cry, again
Say goodbye, again

Our friends have tried to turn my nights to day
Strange faces in your place can't keep the ghosts away
Just beyond the darkest hour, just behind the dawn
Still feels so strange to lead my life, alone

I've no regrets, no tears goodbye
Don't want you back, we'd only cry, again
Say goodbye, again

1 comment:

  1. Aloha Jim, This is interesting to learn that he is using my C tuning. The tuning was created by my dad gabby Pahinui and then used by his good friend Atta Issacs. I use this tuning in all of my own recordings. It was kept secret until I released it to George winston at Dancing Cat to include in his bio on me. Now I teach this tuning to all of my students who study slack key. http://www.dancingcat.com/artists/Cyril_Pahinui.php