If you live in the Los Angeles area and you like biking and hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains, you may have heard of this place. It's actual name is Shoemaker Canyon Rd. and it was a failed attempt to reconstruct the shortcut to Wrightwood (See: The Bridge to Nowhere), instead of taking the Angeles Crest Highway in the 1960s. It was killed off as a result of budget cuts, and enviromentalists. As an interesting note, this road was primarily built by convicts.

In reference to the Talking Heads song (not the road):

This song is originally in the key of E major, but as performed by a solo guitarist/vocalist it is a much better song in the key of G major. Read on for details . . .

In the original song, the sequence of chords for the chorus ("We're on a road to nowhere . . .") is E major followed by C# minor, and the sequence for the verse ("I'm feelin' ok this mornin' . . . ") is A major, followed by E major, and then by B major. (Please go the venerable OLGA for a complete tabulature of this song.)

For a solo guitarist to perform this song in this key requires some manual dexterity, specifically switching between the open E and A chords to the barred C#m and B chords. Not only is this physically difficult for novice players, it also gives the song a disjointed and somewhat empty feel: the open chords have deep, ringing bass notes, contrasting with the barre chords that are higher and somewhat tinny.

However, by transposing this song into the key of G, these problems are avoided. In the key of G, the chords used are (respective to the order presented on the first paragraph): G and then E minor for the chorus ; C, then G, and then D for the verse. These are all chords that are easy for the beginner to play, and they are all played as open chords -- thus balancing the tone and timbre of the song overall.

Using these chords can also lend the soloist some interpretive leeway as well: The four chords used above all have traditional open chord spellings (i.e. the fret positions used to play them.) However, when played together in a song, these alternate spellings for these chords are very popular:

G E C D

E -------3------3------3------3
B -------3------3------3------3
G -------0------0------0------2
D -------0------2------2------0
A -------2------2------3------0
E -------3------0------x------2

(Yes, you've probably seen these before, they are in countless other songs, such as Time of Your Life, Disarm, Wish You Were Here, Closer to Fine, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town and many, many more.)

Using these chords gives the song a slightly more melancholy feel. It could be played at a slower tempo than the original with slightly different dymanics to accentuate that feel, and change the character of the lyrics. Additionally, in the key of G the song is sung at the high end of the male Baritone range in the beginning of the song, and in the low end of the male range at the end of the song ("There's a city in my mind . . . "), which is IMHO very appropriate for a more subdued interpretation of the song -- as opposed to the original, which begins at the low range and ends high.

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