"Living By Memory" by Big Country
From the Album "Rarities VII"

Tab by Colin Dawson - colin_g_dawson@hotmail.com - May 2008

Comments and corrections welcome!

For more info about Big Country visit www.bigcountry.co.uk

This song was originally released on a web only EP called "Bon Apetit" and then
on a CD called "www.bigcountry.co.uk" which combined the "Bon Apetit" and "In
The Scud" EPs with some demo material. The Rarities VII version is a remastered
version of the earlier releases. It has a far superior sound quality but is
otherwise the same. I sometimes think it's been remixed but maybe it's just the
better mastering that makes each instrument clearer and more distinct.

Anyway, this is a really fine song and I never understood why it didn't make
it onto the Driving To Damascus CD. Actually, there were lots of really superb
Big Country tracks from that era that didn't get used for anything other than
web EPs, B-sides and the likes.

 

I've tabbed the song for standard tuning, but at the end I've added a section that
shows how to play it in an alternative tuning.

 

Abbreviations used in this tab are;

h = hammer
p = pull
s = slide
sd = slide down
r = let ring (sustain)

Here are the basic chords;

Intro;
G#m  B   F#  twice

Verse;
G#m  B  F#  repeat x 4

Bridge;
C#m  E   C#m  F#

Chorus;
B  E  F#

 

...and here's the full song;

 

Intro;

I originally tabbed the intro as being 10 frets higher and starting at the llth fret on
the bottom E string. I also tried it starting at the 6th fret on the A string. Neither
produces quite the right tone though. I then tried tuning the guitar to D A C G C D tuning
and using a slide but then the chords become quite difficult (see notes at the end of the
tab if you want to try this out) and it involves a significant re-tuning of the guitar which
is not a practical thing to do in a live situation. Of course, if you have lots of guitars,
you could have one set to this tuning just for this song but that's a luxury few will have.
The easiest way I found to play it is to put a cappo at the first fret, and using the third
finger for the bends but I've tabbed it without the cappo. Played without the cappo, (and
unless you have quite long fingers) it involves a stretch and then using your little finger
to do a full tone bend on the D and G strings at the 4th fret. It's certainly a good way to
test/improve the strength of your smallest finger, and your bending technique. Another way
to play this might be to use a pedal steel guitar for the intro and have a six string around
your neck for the other parts. Finally, you could transpose the whole song down a semi-tone.
I think it's a case of trying the various ways of playing this and picking the one that
suits you best.

 

                 G#m  B   F#                   G#m   B   F#
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------1-4b6b4-1-4b6rrrrrrrr-------------|
D|1-4-1-4b6b4-1-4b6rrrrrrrr-----1-4-----------------------4b6rrrrrrrr-|
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

Verse 1;

G#m          B                       F#                     G#m   B   F#
  I work the graveyard shift at this station, down on Twelfth

G#m                   B              F#                      G#m  B  F#
Spend my time selling cigarettes and talking mostly to myself

C#m                       E  
   No one waits for me at home

C#m                       F#
    Getting used to life alone

Chorus;

          B   E  F#  E
Living by memory

B    E      F#     
Eat, sleep, breathe

E             B  E    F#
Just mindless routines

E              B  E  F#
Slowly killing me

Guitar solo;

                 G#m  B   F#                   G#m   B   F#
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------1-4b6b4-1-1rrrrrrrrrr-------------|
D|1-4-1-4b6b4-1-4b6rrrrrrrr-----1-4-----------------------4b6rrrrrrrr-|
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------|
        Living by memory              Living by memory

 

Verse 2;

    G#m            B                  F#                  G#m  B   F#
I remember it like yesterday it was a Tuesday, October ‘92

            G#m              B       F#                                    G#m  B   F#
There was a wreck out on the highway    you might have heard it on the news

C#m                          E  
   Always think it’s someone else

     C#m               F#
In a moment I was by myself

 

Chorus;

          B   E  F#  E
Living by memory

B    E      F#     
Eat, sleep, breathe

E             B  E    F#
Just mindless routines

E              B  E  F#
Slowly killing me

 

Guitar solo;
(no shorthand)

  G#m            B           F#      G#m      B         F#
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|
B|---------------------------------------------------------------|
G|11b13----11b13-13b11---8p6h8-------------8---------------------|
D|-----------------------------------9b11-----11b9---------------|
A|--------------------------------------------------9p6h9b11-----|
E|---------------------------------------------------------------|

 

  C#m                                           E
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|11b13-----------------------------------11b13b11-----------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
      There’s a peace that waits for me at        Heaven’s door

 

      C#m                           E
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----11b13---------------------13b11-----------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------11b13-11b13b11p9-11b13-|
A|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
  But tonight      my past      is all I’m living for......................

 

 

Chorus;

       B   E  F#  E
And my memories

B    E      F#     
Eat, sleep, breathe

   E         B       E    F#
Surviving on used-to-be’s

E              B  E  F#
Slowly killing me

 

Chorus;

       B   E  F#  E
And my memories

B    E      F#     
Eat, sleep, breathe

   E         B       E    F#
Surviving on used-to-be’s

E              B  E  F#
Slowly killing me

 

Outro;

                 G#m    B     F#                    G#m             B     F#
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|----------------------------------------1-4b6b4-1-1rrrrrrrrrr-------------|
D|1-4-1-4b6b4-1-4b6rrrrrr-4b6b4rr-----1-4-----------------------4p1h4rrrrrb6|
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------------|
  Living by memory                             Living by memory

 

 

Chords:

CHORD | E A D G B E
B    | 2 2 4 4 4 2
C#m  | 4 4 6 6 5 4
E    | 0 2 2 1 0 0 
F#   | 2 4 4 3 2 2
G#m  | 4 6 6 4 4 4

 

If you want to use a slide for the solos try using this tuning;  D A C G C D

 

In that tuning, the chords would be:

CHORD | D  A  C  G  C  D
B     | 9  9  11 11 11 9
C#m   | 6  4  4  6  4  6
E     | 2  2  4  4  4  2 
F#    | 4  4  6  6  6  4
G#m   | 4  4  6  6  6  7

Alternatively, you'll find the intro much easier to play if you use a cappo at the first fret.

I've heard various live recordings of this song from the '98 tours and the slide solo
in the intro and elsewhere isn't played live. Maybe that's because it requires the very unusual
tuning?