Thursday, October 30, 2003
Rock 'N' Roll God
My friend Bill's computer looked it had caught some virus last night, and I went over to his house to nurse it back to health. In the meantime, he gave me a quick guitar lesson. I know about 3 chords, and he taught me how to cheat my way through 5 more. The bad news is that I am not a prodigy, so I have to practice to be able to play them so that they make the intended sounds. But, it was fun.
The fun part though came when his computer came back on (without major problems). He has a bunch of recording equipment linked into his computer, plus a record player! I had been talking to him about the Velvet Underground because I had only recently realized that the three songs from R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office I keep playing over and over again are originally Velvet tunes. He went to his album archives and pulled up Lou Reed Rock 'N' Roll Animal, Live Cream, and Little Feat Feats Don't Fail Me Now. Holy Shit!
Bill is my music spirit guide. Probably my favorite thing to do in Nashville is go to the San Antonio Taco Co., eat chicken wings, and have him explain why the album rock gods playing on the stereo system are rock gods. It's like my own private Inside the Actor's Studio. I liked the Lou Reed and Little Feat, but hearing Clapton play guitar on that first tune, I came to understand why he's so revered. What's amazing to me about his solo is how many different movements there are. It's not like an Eddie Van Halen speed riff, though there's some speed in there. It's like he took the scenic route around the melody, stopping here and there to investigate the range of sounds. My shaman picked up his guitar to play along with the solos and revealed their magic. It's shocking that they're replicable, but what's impressive is that it was the result of specific choices made by the artist while playing rather than following a recipe. Improv at its essence, and not the Who's Line variety either.
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