it’s great. I’ve been able to use that head to
get the sound I’ve never been able to get
before, real beautiful sounding.
How did you become such a successful
session cat? What separates you from
I looked at the guys who just did record
dates. They were maybe non-readers. Then I
looked at theses other guys who seemed to
be able to do everything… records, movies,
jingles, TV, all that kind of stuff. The guys who
can do everything get a lot bigger piece of
the pie. To me the number one requirement
for that was a thorough understanding of the
ornamentation of the styles.
When you really get down to it, blues, blues-rock, rock, country, country-rock, bluegrass,
jazz, heavy metal, be-bop, all these different
styles of music use the same twelve notes.
The only difference between the jazz guys is
how they ornament the style. They’ll play a
certain feel so it’s a rhythmic ornamentation.
They’ll play a certain choice of notes so it’s
a harmonic thing and a sonic thing. You take
that be-bop style of Charlie Parker—it’s really
in many cases the mixolydian mode. Then
you go to these blues guys like B.B. King.
He’s also playing the mixolydian mode, along
with minor pentatonic and various things, but
so are the jazz guys. So it’s the phrasing and
what I call the ornamentation of styles.
I had an awakening one day around 1980.
I’d been studying jazz really hard, practicing five to eight hours a day for maybe
six to seven years to try to be able to
play through changes in the style of Wes
Montgomery, Pat Martino, Pat Metheny and
all those guys. I wanted to be a jazz guy.
One day, I’m driving my car and I hear this
Joe Walsh solo on the radio. It was from
The Eagles’ tune, “Those Shoes.” It was just
a soulful solo. I think he was using a voice
box. I had to pull my car over. The state
of the art of rock guitar has come so far. It
made me think, [laughing] “This is the music
of my people!” It made me really think, “I
could play twenty-six choruses of ‘Stella By
Starlight,’ but who cares? I really like this.”
Come to think of it, I love that Chet Atkins
stuff I was hearing the other day. And I really
like the way my friend plays classical guitar,
and I’d really love to learn some of those Bach
pieces. And I love the way Albert Lee plays. I
need to get into everything. It made me come
to realize that if you dig it, you must learn it. I
just want to be a great guitar player, and not
a great jazz player—not necessarily a great
one thing or another. I think that really helped
me in the studios.
Give me an example of how this works for
you in the studio.