friend of mine had Janis Ian in the studio and i didn't find out about
it until later in the week. I said "Dude, next time you're gonna
have a living legend in, will you please consider calling me?"
Well, he did! I got the call that Earl Klugh was gonna be in and
that it would be cool for me to come in and hang out [yes of course
would've been a an unobtrusive 'guest'].
So that morning comes, and what do i do?
I proceed to forget all about it! I woke up thinking about all of
the stuff that i already had going on that day (mostly kid things).
I am an idiot.
I mean, i know that i'm a scatter-brain, but i had spent a big part of
the previous night searching the internet for Earl Klugh videos, so i
just should not have spaced on this. :(
There are some really good videos out there; old and new. I
love YouTube! I did break one of my self-imposed rules though, and
now i'm paying for it in negativity.
Maybe this blogpost will be enough to cleanse my aura.
I figured out a long time ago that if i want to continue to enjoy
listening to the artists that i love, i need to avoid reading/watching
interviews of them. The danger is that i'll find out that somebody
arrogant ass (or whatever), and then it'll ruin it for me.
This is what happened with the Black Crowes, who i thought were just the
cat's pajamas when Shake Your Money Maker came out. Then i read an
interview with Rich Robinson and he was such a dick that it wasn't until
Lions that i started to 'freely' enjoy hearing them again.
Well, i came across a 2006
Earl Klugh interview at ModernGuitars.com and i didn't think twice
about reading it because i have been listening to Earl since Living
Inside Your Love, his 2nd album (1976); and i always just thought that
he was this totally cool guy.
Let me stop myself here and say that...
Earl Klugh IS a totally cool guy by all accounts that i know of.
I mean, i haven't read or heard anything negative about the guy.
But in this article Earl says two things that i just can't wrap my
head around musician of his stature and accomplishment saying. To
be fair, here they are in their full context:
"I certainly saw the advantages of learning how to
improvise, and to play through chord changes. That's the
most thorough way of learning how to play, and it's really what
separates the men from the boys, as far as I'm concerned. If
you can't get up and do that, it's a handicap, no matter what style of
music you want to do."
Brian Holland: Do you get into alternate tunings?
"No. To me, those are crutches. The amount of time
you spend learning tunings you could be doing other thing [sic], which
is what puts you in line with everybody else's instrument. That's
my thing. When you go on a bandstand and you're playing with a
pianist or an organist, a trumpet player or a harpist, the song is in
the key that it's in. A lot of times they'll modulate or change
it, and that's always been a big thing for me as far as being a fully
rounded and accomplished guitar player. But that's my take on it.
There are a lot of tunings that are beautiful. The guitar is such
a beautiful instrument, and there are a lot of ways to approach it, but
I very much limit that in my way of playing. I just look at it as
traditional tuning. Once in a while I'll tune the E string down to
D and that's about it."
I just sat there shaking my head and thinking that Earl Klugh needs
to get out more. Now, i realize that he is speaking within the
context of his world, but he's also speaking with such broad
generalization that i know i'm not misunderstanding him.
Does he really not understand that many styles of music are
all about centering on a musical theme? And his take on
"traditional" versus open tunings... Would Earl Klugh say that Bela
Fleck uses open tunings as a "crutch"?!
It's like he just flew in from another planet - i just don't get it.
There has always been this thing with jazz players where they think
for some reason that changing scales with every single chord change is
the only way to go. They don't understand the often subtle changes
of guys like Robben Ford or Roy Buchanan. Maybe that's where Earl
is coming from in this interview?
I've known jazz musicians who could not grasp the concept of drone
music. I know that i didn't imagine John McLaughlin and Shakti in
the mid 70's; this is not something new. For God's sake, the Hellecasters
were the masters of their genre but you have to understand that
playing over changes is not at all what that music is about.
Mr. Klugh, i love much of your music and have enjoyed it over the
years; thank you for that. My kids listen to "the cucumbers CD"
(Cool) sometimes before bed. Listen man, i'm begging you: please
further/broaden your musical education/horizon before your next
interview. Any of the following would be a good place to start:
* Robert Johnson
* David Torn
* Michael Hedges
* Stevie Ray Vaughan
* Shawn Lane (with Hellborg & Selvaganesh)
* Martin Simpson
* Bo Diddley
* Pierre Bensusan
I promise you - none of the above musicians are/were "boys" and none
of them use/used open-tunings as a "crutch". Whether or not any of
them are "handicapped"... well i'll concede that that's certainly