Friday, November 3

Lenny

Today's random goodness from iTunes: Django, Wes, Jimi & Stevie Ray, in order. Now you're saying to yourself, "Far out! Cosmic Man!" I reply, "No, grasshopper. A message." (OT: my wife and I were watching Thank You, Mr. Moto the other evening and she pointed out that the actor portraying Prince Chung was Master Kan on Kung Fu. "35 years didn't change those eyes," she said. I was duly impressed.) I'm not quite sure of the message, mind you, but it did make me think about each of these artists individual talents.

Django Reinhardt makes me smile; even when he touches sadness, you know it will pass like water under a bridge. Wes Montgomery is the subtle master, effortless and true, but he plays hard, aggressively, his thumb heavy like a bass players. Hendrix took that attack and made it his own. Where Wes and Django brought feeling through technique, Jimi is feeling through motion - accuracy be damned! - a missed note forgotten in forward propulsion. Hendrix had technique, but knew his time was one of rules be damned. And then Stevie Ray Vaughan.

To be honest, I've always admired Vaughan more than I've liked him. His playing is awe inspiring, but often seems to veer into noodling. When he is focused, like on the sublime recordings from Carnegie Hall (the Double Trouble portion - once Dr. John and company join in it steps back to mortal levels), he's nearly untouchable; so searingly white hot that he can burn all other guitarists out of my mind. Other times, just so much Yngwie Malmsturbation. Luckily for me, the track that came up was "Lenny." Written for his wife, it is as heart-on-the-sleeve as anything I've ever heard. The lyricism of his playing gives me goosebumps (which is most likely more than you need to know). I've never read a good description of his playing on this - it is a blues ballad, but incomparable, even to ballads by comparable talents like Buddy Guy or Robben Ford. I promise not to post YouTube videos willy-nilly, but sometimes I can't sum things up in words...

1 comment:

PK said...

Wow -- that's fantastic shit. But I'm a huge SRV fan, so he could play "Humpty Dumpty," and I'd dig it.

Still, that tune did have a special melodic control, as you indicated.

Outstanding!