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Guitar Musician e-zine     12/14/05

In This Issue:

  "Wes Montgomery played impossible things on the guitar because it was never pointed out to him that they were impossible. " 

                                                                                   Ronnie Scott - Jazz saxophonist

Some Humor

  A Kentucky State Trooper pulled a car over on I-65
about 2 miles North of the Kentucky/Tennessee state line.
When the Trooper asked the driver why he was speeding, the driver
answered that he was a magician and a juggler and he was on his way
to Nashville to do a show that night at Opryland and didn't want to
be late.
The Trooper told the driver he was fascinated by juggling, and if
the driver would do a little juggling for him that he wouldn't give
him a ticket.
The driver told the Trooper that he had sent all of his
equipment on ahead and didn't have anything to juggle.
The Trooper told him that he had some flares in the trunk
of his patrol car and asked if he could juggle them.  The
juggler stated that he could, so the Trooper got three flares,
lit them and handed them to the juggler.
While the man was doing his juggling act, a car pulled in
behind the patrol car. A drunken Redneck good old boy
from Kentucky got out and watched the performance
He then went over to the patrol car, opened
the rear door and got in.
The Trooper observed him doing this and went over to
the patrol car, opened the door and asked the drunk
what he thought he was doing.
The drunk replied, "You might as well take me on to jail,
cause there's no way in hell I can pass that test!"

A Lesson For The Learning

Interested in guitar lessons? - Be sure and check out the guitar lessons offered by Andrew Koblick at Amazing Guitar

Click here for all products by Gibson.

Gibson USA-Made Pickups

Transform your great-playing axe into a great-sounding axe!

By Mikey Lank

Gibson's USA-made pickups provide a broad range of tones that share one characteristic--they're all good. For a whole lot less than buying a new guitar, one of these magnetic marvels can transform the guitar you have into a much sweeter and more powerful instrument. I tried out six of Gibson's finest pickups for this review and was amazed at the quality of sound. In keeping with its seminal role in pickup development, Gibson magnetizes its own magnets and offers a limited lifetime warranty on all USA-made pickups. Gibson pickups feature such boutique-quality touches as nickel baseplates with threaded holes (not stamped), snug-fitting machined pole shoes, German silver or 24k-gold-plated covers, maple spacers, and wax potting. Inimitable tone makes it clear that the extra effort is well worth it.

What's in a pickup?

Any veteran player will tell you that electric guitar tone depends on a lot more than just a pickup. But only an idiot would tell you that the pickup is not a critical factor. While design, manufacturing techniques, and woods are very important to a guitar's tone, a good pickup is a whole lot more important.

'57 Classic'57 Classic Plus490T Humbucker

This fact combined with the advent of extremely capable woodworking factories in Asia has resulted in a unique opportunity for underfunded players. Nowadays you can pick up something like an Epiphone Les Paul Junior for a few days worth of minimum wage and find yourself with a decent-looking, fine playing guitar. Save up a few days more to score a genuine Gibson humbucker to drop in it, and you've got a brand-new guitar that plays real nice and sounds great for a phenomenally low outlay. It won't make your low-end Epiphone into a high-end Gibson, but it will close the gap by more than half.

And even if you already have a high-quality instrument, you might be amazed at how much better it can sound with a truly premium pickup. Very often (almost always with a Gibson or Epiphone), you can install a new pickup without modifying anything else on your guitar. If you don't like it, just pull it out and Gibson will let you exchange it for another (within 60 days of your purchase). For home recording, you can even use a single instrument and put in different pickups to get different sounds. Usually it's a matter of two simple solder connections.

What's so great about Gibson pickups?

When you score a Gibson humbucker, you're buying from the people who invented humbuckers in 1955. They're the same people who have been winding pickups since 1935 and pioneered the use of alnico magnets and adjustable pole pieces in pickups. Their concern with quality is obsessive, to the point that they magnetize their own magnets so they can be sure of the proper magnetic field and longevity. The pickups are wax-potted and their machined pole shoes (the metal tunnel into which the pole piece fits) are very snug to avoid microphonics (eardrum-piercing screeches). The adjustable pole pieces are threaded right through the nickel baseplate for complete structural integrity.

498T Alnico Humbucker496R500T

I actually got to tear apart one of these pickups--a Burstbucker 2--and was amazed at the precision workmanship, from the miles of hair-thin enamel-insulated wire wrap to the maple spacer and through-body adjustable pole pieces. But the real proof is in the pudding.

I thoroughly checked out six of Gibson's greatest pickups by putting them one-at-a-time into the Les Paul Junior I bought for my stepson last year. I was actually surprised by how good the original Epiphone humbucker already in the guitar sounded when I played it through my Gibson Super Goldtone GA-30RV amp. But it was night and day between that very respectable pickup and the USA-made Gibson pickups. Every one of them amazed me with its tonal integrity and sheer inspiring musicality.

Epiphone humbucker

I'll start with the original pickup that was in the Epi Les Paul Junior as a basis for comparison. As I mentioned, it sounded way better than expected when I actually played it through a good amp (OK, it's a great amp). Previously, I had only played it through an inexpensive practice amp. Microphonics showed up occasionally when I was playing through my wah and rack effects. The sound was slightly distant and a little shifted to the highs for my taste, but it was still a very good sound, plenty punchy for most rock gigs. Playing crunchy rhythm, it was full and ballsy but lacking presence. Playing clean/jazzy tones (where the naked inherent tone of a pickup is most audible), it had a nice round sound but not much depth or clarity.

Burstbucker Type 2

The difference between this Gibson pickup and the Epiphone humbucker was immediately, dramatically apparent. It had way more personality, in-your-face bite, and organic response. As with all the Gibson pickups, this one generated a certain natural core of tone, a ringing bark that scratches some subliminal itch for me. I can't define it exactly but I can tell right away whether a pickup has it or not. All of these Gibson pickups definitely had it. This Burstbucker is a historically accurate reproduction of the first "Patent Applied For" humbucker that originally appeared on the Les Paul in 1955. The Alnico 2 magnet and unbalanced coil windings produced an airy tone with a bit of extra edge as compared to a '57 Classic. Played clean, it had the depth and punch necessary for a good vintage jazz tone.

Distorted, the Burstbucker rips, bites, and tears. Its ample high end got the most out of the wah. It made the instrument sound much more like a classic LP Special, bringing out the character of the guitar and giving the amp a lot more to work with. The rhythm chunk was full without being too dense. It was thick in upper mids and lighter on the bass, making the tone knob more responsive.

Tony Iommi

This was definitely my favorite of all the Gibson pickups. It's rounder with more midrange than the Burstbucker. You don't expect a pickup in the bridge position on a low-end LP Special to crank out bold, full jazz tone, but surprisingly the Iommi pulls it off with a well-defined and pronounced bass. Distorted, the Iommi was spookily Black Sabbath sounding. "Iron Man" came out of my guitar of its own accord with that sizzling sustain Tony loves. It made my Goldtone sound like a Marshall--big, bold, and fat, but not without edge. It definitely brought out the heavy rocker in me.

The Tony Iommi made the treble knob more usable, giving me a gentle mix rather than the typical on/off effect I get from most pickups. In rhythm crunch mode, it's tighter and cleaner than the Epi pickup. Higher output pickups like this one generally don't do as well on the treble end, but the Tony Iommi had plenty of highs when I wanted to dial them in. I liked it so well I also tried it out in my Charvel Fat Strat copy and fell completely in love with it there. The Tony Iommi is a real winner for old-school guys like me who are after pure, versatile tone.

Dirty Fingers

The super-high output of the Dirty Fingers was evident from the first note. When I played it clean I could feel it really pushing the preamp, which broke up a little even at low gain. With a lot of high end, its clean sound was great for Les Paul (the man)-style country jazz riffs. The mids were somewhat scooped with bold bass and very hot treble. I could feel it just itching to get down with some serious distortion.

When I did switch to the lead channel it knocked my socks off! Get ready to have your scalp peeled when you spark this baby up. It had a throaty and commanding tone with lots of presence that sounded kind of like a wah set part way up. It loved those pinch harmonics. When I ran it through my wah, this thing screamed with loads of bell-like harmonic overtones combined with a gritty kick. The attenuated mids gave it phenomenal definition when highly distorted while the bold highs and presence added a lot of high-end sparkle. My amp loved this pickup.


Since humbuckers have always held my primary allegiance, I was surprised to find I liked this humbucker-sized replica of the original Gibson P-90 so much. On the clean channel, it produced fuller bass and a better jazz tone than any single-coil I've ever played (on a solidbody). It generated a really thick tone for a single-coil but still delivered brilliant single-coil clarity. When crunched, it gets a very vintage Beatles-style tone. It also gets a nice country twang without the piercing edge. Its fat, clean chunk is great for vintage blues leads as well.

Distorted, the P-94 produced a tight, bright, articulated sustain that's clean without being anemic. With a little hand technique, it's glad to pump out whistles and bell-like higher harmonics. This pickup is definitely not for the player who wants to hide out in the distortion. Every note you play is right out front, which is a big advantage in a song that has a lot going on already. Aside from a minor bit of hum, the P-94 provided all the things I like about a single-coil and none of the things I don't like.

'57 Classic

I was already familiar with this pickup, as I have a pair of them on my ES-335. It is without a doubt my favorite pickup for jazz tone and for general versatility. Until I played the Tony Iommi, the '57 Classic was by far my favorite pickup for everything. When played clean, its balanced coils and Alnico 2 magnet generated the warmest, roundest, and most substantial jazz tone you could hope for, with plenty of midrange punch and solid bass that's not boomy.

Mounted in the LP Junior and crunched, the '57 Classic generated full rhythms that were never muddy and cut through the mix while providing a substantial frame for the rest of the song. As a distorted lead pickup, it rang out full and true with fabulous sustain and plenty of high-end sparkle without being too edgy. The bold midrange made it a tone that could carry the melody to new heights without assistance.

Burstbucker Pro

This is a wilder cousin to the Burstbucker. With an Alnico 5 magnet, it generated bold bass, fat mids, cutting highs, and a complex tone with lots going on. In a distorted lead mode it produced more high harmonics than the regular Burstbucker. Combined with the mids, the result was an effervescent river of tone--a huge anthemic stadium sound with amazing sustain. It responded eagerly to picking dynamics and every subtle hand technique. The trebles came right out when I picked harder and expressive bends didn't get lost in the sauce.

When I turned the treble up, there was tons there to work with--plenty of grist for my effects mill. It made for a particularly rich chorus. In crunch mode, the Burstbucker Pro was very bright but not lacking in bottom end punch.

And that's not all . . .

Well, that's it for the pickups I tried out for this review, but Gibson has still more pickups to choose from. The Mini-Humbucker is an exact replica of the one found on the '70s LP Deluxe with a bright and focused tone that provides a little crisper edge than the wider humbuckers.

The 490 (in bridge or neck versions) provides the quintessential sharp but meaty modern Les Paul tone that can be heard on zillions of recordings. This is a perfect choice to enhance the sound of an Epiphone Les Paul. The 496R is an aggressively high-output neck-position pickup that makes a perfect complement to the 500T, which is an extremely hot bridge pickup with lasting sustain and great definition. The 498T is a very modern-sounding Alnico 5 humbucker with high output and enhanced highs and mids.

Gibson's only other USA-made signature pickup is the Angus Young, which generates a hot signal with lots of tonal warmth. It's got plenty of attitude and pounds of punch for those about to rock. Last, but certainly not least, is the classic P-90, an exact replica of the pickup found on the original goldtop Les Paul. It sounds just like the P-94 I reviewed above, but mounts differently.

Winners across the board

I couldn't be more impressed with Gibson's USA-made pickups. They made a very inexpensive LP Junior sound like a serious pro instrument that I would like to have in my collection. And there's enough variety to suit the tastes of almost any tone freak out there.

If you love the tone of genuine Gibson guitars, you love Gibson pickups. Try a new USA-made Gibson pickup now and be amazed at how cool and how different your guitar can sound.




Playing a Hammer and Pull Off

Frank Davidson; France

Q: Hi, Great DVD's I've learned a lot over the past three months! My wife says I actually sound like I'm playing music now (I sort of liked when I used to sound so bad I would piss her off) and it's all thanks to your DVD's.

Can you tell me what and how to play a hammer and pull off?

A: To play a hammer you pick a note then on the same string you thrust your finger down on another note without picking it. The velocity of your finger coming down on the string makes the note sound.

Try for example fretting the 5th fret of the 3rd string with your 1st finger, then hammer your 3rd finger down on the 7th fret of the same string with out picking it. You should hear the sound of the note with the hammer.

A Pull Off is like the opposite of a hammer, you pull or snap your finger off a note to sound a note on the same string.

Here is an example of a pull off. Fret the 7th fret of the 3rd string with your 3rd finger, also put your 1st finger on the 5th fret of the same string, now pull or snap your 3rd finger down off the note it was fretting but keep your 1st finger down on the 5th fret while you pull off. You should hear the note on the fifth fret sound without having to pick it . . . and that is a pull off.

Hope this helps!

Yours in Music
John McCarthy
Rock House

Feature Paid Advertisement




Roger McGuinn

12-String Ornithology: An inside view from one of the masterminds of modern rock, Part I.

As cofounder and frontman of the Byrds, Roger McGuinn had as much to do with the evolution of the music we now call rock as almost anyone else. By combining the protest sensibilities of folk greats such as Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan with the rock backbeat of The Beatles, McGuinn created a truly unique sound that would be followed by thousands. McGuinn's influence in all forms of modern rock and pop is everywhere and incalculable.

A far-ranging and powerful songwriter and guitarist, McGuinn launched his solo career with the dissolution of the Byrds in 1973. Thousands of dates and dozens of albums later, McGuinn is still making musical waves around the world. Martin has honored him with two signature guitars--the Roger McGuinn HD-7 and D-12-42RM--and his inimitable jangly fretwork has made the Rickenbacker electric 12-string one of the world's best-recognized sounds.

We caught up with Roger at his home in New York. In his humble, laid-back manner, he talked freely about the early days when he walked with giants and became one in the process. Be sure to tune in next week when McGuinn gets down to the nuts and bolts of his gear and his very public fight for Internet music.

Question: You studied at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago?

Roger McGuinn: Yeah.

Q: What did that training consist of? Did you have to learn theory?

RM: There was some theory but there was more practical experience. It was pretty much a one-to-one teaching experience with Frank Hamilton, who was in the Weavers. Frank would sit across from a few of us and show us a couple of licks. We'd learn 'em and we'd write them down. It would usually be in conjunction with a song. You'd learn the whole song with a picking pattern--like Travis picking or maybe a five-string banjo roll or something like that--take it home and work on it a couple of days, and come back. It was informal but it was very, very educational. I learned a whole lot of different licks and styles--how to play claw banjo and 12-string guitar and all kinds of different things from it.

Q: How long had that school been going on when you went there?

RM: Oh, it had just opened up that year. I was one of the first students there. It's still around now.

Q: That's great. Did you have any theoretical background in any other context? In school or . . .

RM: In school I had music classes and they taught us some theory but it wasn't really important to me to learn a lot of theory. I was more of a hands-on play-it-by-ear kind of artist. My interest was in playing music and not learning about the nuts and bolts of it.

Q: You did a few recording sessions around LA in the early '60s. Were you a regular session guy there for awhile?

RM: No. I wasn't really a regular session guy in LA, I was more in New York. I did quite a few sessions in New York around '62 and '63. I worked on Judy Collins and Tom and Jerry, which later turned into Simon & Garfunkel.

Q: Do you remember that date?

RM: Well, they wanted the 12-string, so they hired me. I came in and sat there and the track was already recorded. So I was just an overdub.

Q: Were either of them there? Or was it just you?

RM: I don't think they were there. I wouldn't have known them, they weren't famous then.

Q: Right. [laughs]

RM: I don't know if they were there or not. [laughs]

Q: So you were already playing the electric 12-string?

RM: No . . . well it was an acoustic 12-string. I may have had a pickup in it but I'm not sure. I think I was just using it acoustically miked at that point.

Q: In those days was your session work mostly guitar or did you also get called in for other jobs?

RM: I did guitar and banjo. I wasn't known as a vocalist. I was known as an instrumental musician.

Q: At the time you started putting folk songs to a Beatles beat in the Village in the early '60s, did you know of anybody else who was doing the same thing, or were you the first guy doing that?

RM: I was the first guy doing that. Actually it came out of my experience working for Bobby Darin's publishing company in the Brill building. The Beatles came out and my instructions were to listen to the radio and write songs like the ones that were coming out. So I started experimenting with the Beatle beat and putting it to various folk songs that I knew. I took it down to Greenwich Village and played it for the people down there. They weren't really into it, you know, because they're kind of purist in folk music. They thought it was kind of bubblegummy or something. One guy who owned one the coffee houses put a sign outside that said "Beatle Imitations." [general laughter] It was kind of embarrassing. So, I left town. That's when I went to LA. I got a gig at the Troubadour doing pretty much the same thing. That's where I ran into Gene Clark. He and I had a shared interest in The Beatles, which was unusual for folk people. I remember telling John Phillips about The Beatles and he put it down like it was lightweight stuff. The folkies didn't get it.

Q: When you were doing this were you feeling like you were onto something? I mean, did you have any idea what was going to happen?

RM: Yes, I did. I knew I was onto something, for a couple of reasons. Dion came over to where I was living in the Village. Bobby Darin had sent him around because Dion was looking for a guitar player to do some gigs with. He came up and hung out with me for a while and I showed him what I was into. He said, "Hey, that's really . . . You're onto something there." And I said, "Well, I'm just sort of doing The Beatles." He said, "No, no, man, you're not. You're doing your own thing. This is really different." So, that was a good sign. Then, I was walking down Bleeker Street and I saw a couple of club owners talking. They said, "What we need is four of him." I went, "Oh, right." So that was kind of the spark there that showed me I was definitely onto something.

Q: And how old were you at that point?

RM: I was 20, 21.

Q: Wow.

RM: Twenty-one I went out to LA. I was 22 when the Byrds hit.

Q: When did your aspiration change from just playing a little bit to thinking about being a musician for life?

RM: That was in 1960 when I was hired by the Limeliters. They were having a jam session down at the Gate of Horn folk club in Chicago. And I would go there. I had a coffee house gig up the street on Rush Street. And after I got done with that I would walk down to the Gate of Horn and I had my guitar and banjo with me. I walked into the Gate of Horn and Theodore Bikel and Alex Hassilev and Glenn Yarborough were all having a jam session. And Alex Hassilev said, "What you got there, kid?" and I said, "I got a banjo and a guitar." He said, "Break out the banjo. We've already have 3 guitars going." So I did and I played with them till five o'clock in the morning, which was closing time. And at that point he said, "We're planning to do a record and Glenn here doesn't like to play the guitar. He likes just to sing. So we want somebody to back him up." And, I thought "great." He said, "Would you like a job?" And I said "Sure!" So he said, "Okay, meet us tomorrow at one o'clock at Mr. Kelly's for an audition." So, I went home and didn't sleep much. I went over to Mr. Kelly's and auditioned for 'em and they said, "You got the job, when can you start?"

And I said, "Well, I get out of high school in June." [laughs] They said, "Wow, you're in high school, huh? Well, you know, when you get out we'll send you a plane ticket." So I said okay. I went back to school, this was probably in the middle of winter, somewhere like February or March and I kind of forgot about it. But June came around and they sent me a plane ticket. And I went out to LA and recorded with them on RCA, a record called Tonight: In Person with the Limeliters. That was my first professional gig. Before that I had just been playing coffee houses.

Q: And you were hooked at that point?

RM: Well, I knew that was what I wanted to do, yeah.

Q: Why didn't you stay with the Limeliters?

RM: They didn't really need me anymore. They just wanted me on the album, just as a backup.

Q: How long did you stay in LA after that?

RM: Not long. I hung out and met David Crosby and he and I went up to Santa Barbara and hung out for a couple of weeks. Then I went up to San Francisco because I heard about the Hungry I and the scene up there. I wanted to see that, so I went up and was hanging around San Francisco and I met the Kingston Trio and actually auditioned for them. They were looking for a replacement for Dave Guard but I was a little too young and didn't sing loud enough for them. Anyway, I got an offer from the Chad Mitchell Trio to be a backup musician for them. So, I started doing that and I worked with them for a while. And then after that I went with Bobby Darin.

Q: So from the minute you got out of high school you were making a living as a musician?

RM: Yeah, yeah. I never had to do anything else.

Q: That's great. When you met David Crosby, was it totally a social thing or did you guys get together and play?

RM: He wasn't much of a player at that point, he was an actor when I met him at the Ash Grove and he played a little guitar. But I showed him some stuff. He was still learning. And we hung out, we got to know each other and he was a nice guy. I liked him at the time and so we hung out for awhile.

Q: At that time did you guys have any inkling you were going to make a band?

RM: No, not in 1960. In fact, there were just folk groups. Rock bands were something else. We weren't interested in that. We were just into making folk music--mostly in folk music clubs, like the Ash Grove and the Troubadour and the Hungry I, the Village Gate, the Gate of Horn in Chicago. There were about six or seven places around the country that had clubs.

Q: At what point did you start writing? I mean doing your own songs?

RM: I started writing around '62, I think. I was in living in New York. And met Mike Settle, who was a waiter. He was in the First Edition with Kenny Rogers. But at that point he was a singer. He was a solo artist and he was singing around at the Bitter End when I met him. He and I wrote some songs. That was my first experience with songwriting.

Q: What was the first song that you wrote?

RM: It was a Christmas song, called "Early Christmas Morn." I don't even know it anymore, but it was the first song we wrote. I remember we took it up to Al Brackman at TRO music on Columbus Circle and signed a contract with him and in the contract it said we were supposed to get a dollar. And I said where's my dollar? [laughs] He said, "Nobody ever asked me that before." But he pulled out his wallet and gave me a dollar. [laughs]

Q: What was the first song you wrote that really had a lasting impression?

RM: I think it was when I was working at the Brill Building with Bobby Darin. But he didn't write it with me. I wrote it with Frank Gari. Frank Gari and I wrote this song called "Beach Ball." It got up to number six in Australia. It was done by Jimmy Hannan. He was an Australian variety show host, singer, and entertainer. Bobby and I recorded it as the City Surfers on Capitol. [laughs]

Q: About the end of your time with the Chad Mitchell Trio, you opened for Lenny Bruce. Did you get a chance to hang out with him at all?

RM: I did. I met him a little. I didn't talk much, but I saw him and I admired him. He was kind of a hero.

Q: What kind of a guy was he personally?

RM: He was very cool. He was a hipster. He was one of those very hip people. Like meeting Jack Kerouac or something.

Q: [laughs] That's cool. Your song "Turn, Turn, Turn" is one of the few songs out there with such a direct Biblical lift. How did you come to perform it?

RM: The history of that song is Pete Seeger wrote it. He was at his publishing company, his publisher's office in New York. And the publisher said, "Pete, you gotta stop writing these protest songs because I can't sell them." And Pete said, "Well, you've got the wrong songwriter 'cause that's all I do is write protest songs." But Pete remembered that he had written down some little notes. He was thumbing through the Bible one day and he saw this thing that caught his attention. He wrote down some notes on "to everything there's a season and a time to every purpose under heaven," and he developed it into a poem. He kind of changed it around a little bit. But he added that little zinger at the end, "The time for peace, I swear it's not too late," so it was kind of a protest song. [laughs] He took it back to his publisher and the guy said, "That's great. That's good. We can use that." So Pete did it in concert and that's where I heard it. I used to go to all Pete's concerts. And then Judy Collins did it on her third album. I was the musical director on that album. So I knew the song from there and then when the Byrds were already going, we had a hit with "Mr. Tambourine Man." Somebody asked me if I knew "Turn, Turn, Turn" and I did. I started playing sort of a rock version of it instead of a folk version. And that's the way we recorded it. Columbia Records wasn't going to release it; they were kind of scared of it because of the Biblical connotation. But Terry Melcher, rest his soul, was really in love with the track, he thought it was great. So he took it up and down the California coast to all the DJs and they started playing it locally. It got to be a regional hit in California and gradually spread across the country. So Columbia was forced to release it because it was a hit already.

Q: What a great song! It's one of your favorites, right?

RM: Yeah, I love the song. It's a really good melody and I like what it says.

Q: Did you ever hear any feedback directly from Bob Dylan regarding what you did with "Mr. Tambourine Man"?

RM: Yeah sure. Actually he gave us feedback before we even recorded it. He came to our rehearsal studio and he and Bobby Neuwirth were hanging out there. We played a few songs for him and at one of the songs, he said, "What was that?" and I said, "That's one of your songs, man." [laughs] He said, "I didn't recognize it." He didn't recognize it. [laughs] So they liked it, they gave us their approval right away.

Q: It's been said that the Byrds had a huge impact on him in getting Dylan into more electric music.

RM: Well, you know, he's a bright guy. He was hearing The Beatles and the Stones, too. So, I'm sure it was only a matter of time. But we were probably a catalyst to get him to go that direction, yeah.

Q: It's kind of cool how everybody was influencing everybody else so heavily in those days.

RM: I know, it was great. Yeah, even the Byrds influenced The Beatles a little bit with "If I Needed Someone." That was kind of a cool thing. We did a riff on the Byrds, "The Bells of Rhymney" and George Harrison liked it so much he wrote "If I Needed Someone" based on that lick.

Q: Wow! [laughs]

RM: It was really cool.

Q: You met The Beatles.

RM: Yeah, we met The Beatles. We hung out with them, we got to be friends with them.

Q: Was that pretty cool?

RM: It was great. It was . . . are you kidding . . . it was incredible! [laughs]

Q: They were huge already so that would've been monumental even right then, huh?

RM: Yeah, it was. It was, I mean, six months before we met them we were on the street kind of starving and then we got this catapult into fame and got to meet The Beatles and hang out with them and it was a wonderful time. They were always the big stars, you never lost sight of that. But George and I hung out and we exchanged guitar licks and it turned out that he and I were into the same riff on the same song around the same time. It was the lead break on the flip side of Gene Vincent's "Be-Bop-A-Lula"--a song called "Woman Love." So we had a lot in common. We were coming from the same place, like a rockabilly background and then they had done a skiffle thing. So they were kind of folkies too. George and John were my favorite Beatles. We really got along okay. First thing Lennon said to me, "What's with those little glasses?"

Q: [general laughter] Listening to Back from Rio I was really struck by how much Tom Petty's been influenced by your music. He was on that record, wasn't he?

RM: Yeah, he was. He and I wrote "King of the Hill" together. We were on tour over in Europe with Dylan. And we'd just read John Phillips' autobiography. We thought that would be good material for a song, so we wrote "King of the Hill."

Q: You guys hung out a lot?

RM: Yeah we used to hang out a lot when I was living in LA. I used to go over to his place all the time.

Q: So it was a very direct influence. How did you come up with "Mr. Spaceman?"

RM: I was sitting in my living room looking out a the front lawn and I was kind of bored and I thought it would be really cool if a flying saucer landed out there [laughs] and took me for a ride. So, it was just a goofy concept that hit me.

Q: But it never landed?

RM: No, it didn't.

Q: [laughs] That's good to know.

RM: Still waiting.

Interview provided by

Recommended Listening - A Must For Your Collection!

James McMurtry, Childish Things
By Mike Thomas
Valued by many in Americana circles for the laconic, literary touch he inherited from his father�best-selling novelist Larry McMurtry�Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter James McMurtry brings far more to the table than deft storytelling. If his widely heralded 2003 live album, Live in Aught Three, made the strongest case to date for McMurtry�s inclusion among the roots-rock elite, Childish Things settles the issue once and for all. McMurtry�s first studio outing in three years is a gritty, uncompromising stomp through a fractured America disconnected from itself and lurching toward a hard reckoning. His defiant, nasal twang fits like broken-in leather over a taut alt-country framework of forcefully strummed acoustic rhythms, crunchy electric lead lines, fiddles, keyboards, and riser-rattling percussion. There�s not a single dud among the album�s dozen tracks, but a few stand out in fast company. �We Can�t Make It Here,� the collection�s majestic, Grateful Dead�flavored centerpiece, vents eloquent, righteous disgust over the current state of the nation. �Slew Foot� and �Restless� quake and rumble with raw, Crazy Horse power, and �Pocatello� busts out of the gate like Nashville neo-honky tonk with cojones and gray matter to spare. Brainy, brawny, and badass. (Compadre,


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