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Great Guitar Moments
As we did back in September, Rock Square is honoring the splendor and beauty of rock 'n' roll’s most vital ingredient with our November Electric Guitar Giveaway, which kicked off yesterday and will continue through the end of this month.
We are once again giving away a brand new Epiphone SG Special to one lucky winner who registers to become a Rock Square Community Member in the month of November. Entering to win this handsome axe is simple: click here and join our community and you can consider yourself in the running.
Those of you who are already members are eligible as well. If you’re currently a Community Member, you need only hop on over to our Facebook page to join in the fun.
As we were putting this giveaway together, the folks in the Rock Square office got to talking about (okay, arguing about) our favorite guitar players of all time. The debate got a little bit heated. But that’s what happens when passionate music lovers get to talking about music.
Once we grew tired of arguing about our favorite guitar players, we moved onto discussing our favorite instances of guitar playing in rock ‘n’ roll history, those songs or moments that stung us with the sheer beauty of the instrument. Needless to say, we cobbled together a pretty long list of notable riffs, eventually narrowing it down to a few choice cuts by bands who’ve appeared in our news section lately. Hey, we had to choose somehow, and that seemed as good a way as any.
So here they are--a few of Rock Square’s most cherished guitar licks.
The Beatles, “And Your Bird Can Sing”
John Lennon dismissed “And Your Bird Can Sing” as “another of my throwaways...fancy paper around an empty box,” but even geniuses are wrong sometimes, and Lennon is definitely wrong in this case. This is a perfect two-minute blast of pop bliss, and Lennon might have been a little bit retrospectively cranky due to the fact that it was McCartney and Harrison who really shined on this one, their guitars intertwining to fashion a melody both agitated by and alive with love. The first five seconds constitute one of the finest and most concise bits of electric guitar beauty in The Beatles’ catalog.
Fleetwood Mac, “Never Going Back Again”
Lindsey Buckingham is a subtly emotive player, and he seems to have access to some strange strain of fragility that he’s able to translate into shattering, memorable guitar lines. “Never Going Back Again” is Buckingham’s shining moment on Rumours, and although the lyrics and vocals push the song over the edge into the terrain of utter genius, it would have been nearly as affecting as an instrumental number. Buckingham weaves his plucked melodies into an evocation of heartbreak that doesn’t need words to make itself understood. We’re not crying. We just have something in our eyes.
Metallica, “Creeping Death”
Finding evidence of brilliant riffage in the Metallica discography is like shooting fish in a barrel. Really tough, sinister fish in a barrel filled with something potentially fatal, but, you know, this is Metallica we’re talking about. The six-and-a-half minutes of “Creeping Death” constitute a master class in menacing metal guitar playing, with crushing breakdowns, speed-demon thrash runs and melodic solos joining forces to destroy everything in their path. “Creeping Death” is still essential after all these years.
Bob Dylan, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
Bob Dylan announced his break from folk conventions with this opening track from Bringin’ It All Back Home, the 1965 album on which Dylan teamed up with an electric rock and roll band for the first time. The move alienated many folk traditionalists--Dylan was even booed at the Newport Folk Festival soon after the album was released--but there’s no denying Dylan was in the right here. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is a rollicking, rousing statement of purpose, a canny exploitation of the electric guitar’s ability to rustle feathers. And, in the end, just a downright fun song.
Steve Vai, “For the Love of God”
In an interview with us, Steve Vai opened up about his spiritual side.“I’m one of those guys that has always wanted to understand the core of our nature,” Vai explained. “So that’s been my study my whole life, even more than music.” You can hear this searching, spiritual inquisitiveness on the gorgeous “For the Love of God”, as Vai uses his instrument to conjure visions of transcendence. Just sit back and let him take you away.
Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir”
Yes, we wrote about this one yesterday as a part of our ongoing coverage of Led Zeppelin’s Celebration Day, but after we finished our news piece we couldn’t stop cranking this live version of “Kashmir”. And sure, that opening riff is a monster, but subsequent listens reveal the subtleties of Page’s guitar work. John Paul Jones takes over the melodic duties on keyboard as Page wrestles thorny, stormy swirls of distortion out of his guitar. It sounds like he’s playing against the music, like he’s fighting for control of a song that cannot be defeated. It’s stunning.
Jimi Hendrix, “The Star Spangled Banner”
We’re cheating a little bit here--Hendrix hasn’t made our news section lately--but there’s no way we couldn’t include Jimi’s heroic version of “The Star Spangled Banner”, especially with an election right around the corner, for those of you residing in the US. Hendrix here twists the standard into something just as messy and beautiful and confusing and moving as the nation it honors, and it is a downright captivating demonstration of guitar prowess.
Okay then. We hope this modest feast of riffs has inspired you to enter our November Electric Guitar Giveaway. Good luck!
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