I walked into the kitchen last night and said to my wife that I probably should learn a few cover songs or I’ll miss my opportunity to play in a band. She said, “honey, you do play covers, they are just from Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, not the rolling Stones or the Eagles. I begged to differ with her, and being my old lady she was ready to discuss our ‘differences’.
First off, my pal Allan can play the guitar for real, we have talked about this rhythm vibe before. To get the rhythm vibe going he suggested a couple of common rock songs to learn the rhythm sections to. He agrees that Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Pete Townsend were some rhythmical M.F.’s (I don’t mean Musicians Friend either)! He also thinks it would help a lot to do the rhythm part of some cover songs to pick up the rock and roll vibe. I don’t disagree with him and experiment with many very rhythmical sounds all the time. Allan is a wealth of Info to say the least.
My problem happens to be that within a short amount of time I drift back to playing Jimi Hendrix and SRV stuff. I just can’t help it. I defy any man, women or child to say that Hendrix and SRV are not about the most rhythmical guys in the world. Take “Foxy Lady” by Hendrix. What a cool beat, lots of R & B in that song. Or my other man SRV, the master of twelve bar blues, actually he redefined twelve bar blues and raised the notch about ten pegs while he was at it.
Back to the subject. I said to her that playing their music, meaning Hendrix and SRV, is not really a cover, in my opinion. How is that she asked?
Is it my fault that my tastes in music are very narrow? I did not have any real strong tastes for any particular music at 12 years old, until I heard a young wild guitar player named Jimi Hendrix. I was immediately stunted in my musical tastes forever, and never got past “that stage”. I simply don’t know many rock and roll songs. Especially in full, note for note. What I mean to say is that most cover bands want the songs played note for note the same way the band who ‘wrote’ the song, played it, using the exact same sheet music and notes that the song was originally written.
I love still being in “that stage” of life. I don’t want to grow out of it. For the record I have no problem with players that play covers. The type of guitar music you play has nothing to do with talent, it is a personal vibe. Allan can play more than covers, that is for sure, but he really does justice to the cover songs his jam band has on their play list. He plays some cooool blues too. But, I’m sure he ups the quality level of the band.
My argument concerning my idea that Hendrix is not cover-able is anchored by my the fact that rarely did Jimi or Stevie Ray Vaughan play any songs the same way two times. They were not confined to in the box thinking patterns. Jimi used every trick in the book. He used scales and scales he modified, unknowingly at the time in so many ways it boggles my mind. Whether he knew it or not, he turned the way scales and chords are used into magical, ‘out of the box maneuvers,‘ no one had even began to think of back then. Improvisational artists, if you will. Play what you feel, no set script..
His mind ran free and wild, his imagination was limitless, there was nothing sacred to him, except being different. With that in mind, there are many ways Hendrix played “Foxy Lady”. He squeezed every bit out of the Key F#, in every way possible to play his vibe in Foxy Lady. He constantly changed his positioning on the fretboard and used chords in a magical way, like no one else. His timing on bends and unorthodox guitar techniques make it look easy, but in reality only a unique person from the planet Venus has the magical power to do that.
Improvisation fits my style, I like to pick my Fender VooDoo Stratocaster up and play what sounds good to me. Whatever rhythmical Hendrix or Stevie Ray tune is on my mind. Since any way you play one of these songs is fair play, I play it the way I want to. Using open note scales often, as Jimi and Stevie did to obtain different voicings’ of the same notes and chords one would play when fretting them. No one can tell me I played it wrong. There is no wrong way to play it as long as it sounds the way you want it to.
Re-reading and then listening to the SRV “Texas Flood” guitar lick lesson by Stevie Snacks, you will hear the teacher, Stevie Snacks mention that he (SRV) only played that particular walk around lick that way one time in public. SRV played “Texas Flood” about a million times in public, so there must have been a variety of ways SRV played that lick. Get the idea?
Jim Hendrix freaks know exactly what I’m talking about. He messed with our heads from the time that crazy guitar player appeared on the scene in the ’60’s. Perhaps one reason his music is timeless has to do with his total lack of any type of music and guitar training, which left his mind wide open for anything. No body instilled any musical parameters or boundaries in his head as a youngster. As far as he (Jimi) was concerned anything was possible.
What do you folks think? Is Guitar Players Center right about Hendrix music not being cover-able? What is your take on the opinion I personally hold and express about guitar music, both in writing and in my guitar playing style. I rarely make an ‘argument’ (statement or observation) to my wife that she agrees with. I wrote this post with great happiness that I am not alone in this thought..