Rosa Lee McFall

Chatting with my friend Rick recently, he mentioned the Monroe Brothers song Rosa Lee McFall.  I’d never heard of it, but I quickly found this excellent version by Garcia, Grisman, and Rice (from the Pizza Tapes).  Even though the subject of this tune spells her name wrong (or, at least, differently that our Rosalie), it is a sweet song.

One of the things I like about this song is that it is based on one of my favorite harmonic moves, the simple I to vi (C major to a minor, for example).  I find it very plaintive, especially when repeated, as it is here or in the old-time staple Fall on Your Knees.  There is also a nice tweak to the steady harmonic progression toward the end of some of the verses.  Instead of continuing the steady I to vi progression, a IV chord replaces the vi after only two beats, just before the turnaround.  It’s like a little ray of sunshine.  (It happens in the opening instrumental verse, and under the second sung verse on the words “I know that I want to be happy”).

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