Audio/Video, Blog, Hunter's Effects, Recommended Artists & Recordings, Recommended Gear, Recorded Performances (live and otherwise)

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry

I record myself practicing as a matter of habit, and the piece linked below is the first thing I play on stage and in practice: Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” This arrangement is mine, and is designed to showcase some of my own techniques for harmonica, such as the 10th/11th/12th splits you hear on the introduction and after each verse. I set up the backing track, which consists of bass, drums, and one harp, and loaded it into my Digitech JamMan Solo looper pedal; once the JamMan is running, everything else is live.

Photo by Chiara Meatelli

The harmonica is a Hohner MB Deluxe in the key of A, played in second position. It’s played into an Audix Fireball V mic, which is input to my Digitech RP355 running a Bassman amp model with rotary speaker effect. (In my v14 patch set for the Digitech RP355, this patch is named FBAROT. I’m renaming it for the next version of the patch set.) I set the RP355 up in stompbox mode so I can go from full off on the FX to full on with a footpress. I think this patch has a big, tough sound, not extremely distorted but loud and full, with plenty of body and a convincing tone both with and without the rotary speaker effect. I think the overall arrangement works very well with nothing but drums, bass, and harp.

The singing is my own, and I don’t think it sounds a lot worse than Bob’s. (Whatever. I’m working on it.)


Richard Hunter/It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry LIVE 20110815


6 Responses to “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”

  1. Great playing, Richard, nice singing. But I think drum and bass part can be a bit interesting.

  2. Richard Hunter says:

    Yes, I think you’re right. Over time I expect to evolve the accompaniments for all my pieces that are accompanied by a pre-recorded rhythm section. However, I think the accompaniment on this piece works pretty well–in the Americana style that this piece represents, rock-steady takes precedence over almost anything.

  3. john dagostino says:

    Nice. Isn’t it weird the way dylan popularized harmonica to the masses in the sixties, yet by all [most] accounts cant really be called a “great” harmonica player, and yet again has always and probably always will inspire real musicians in multitudes of musical avinues?

    Cant wait for all along the watchtower.

  4. Richard Hunter says:

    He’s a great songwriter. That’s what’s so inspiring, at least to me.


Check out what others are saying about this post...
  1. […] (or one you just recorded), an example of which is my recent live recording of Bob Dylan’s It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry. They both offer simple drum machine-type rhythms for self-accompaniment with a separate volume […]

  2. […] song, one of my favorite jam platforms, live into my Zoom H4 at the same rehearsal where I recorded It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry. All the parts except the percussion loop are played with the same Seydel 1847 G harp, running […]

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!