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Archive for September, 2018

James Taylor: Unsung Hero?

I’ve tended to focus on electric guitar in this blog over the years as it started out as a diary for my move into tube amps. But truth be told, I play acoustic guitar at least 75% of the gigs I play. And through the years, James Taylor has been a major influence on how I approach acoustic guitar playing.

I’ve written about JT in the past, but last night, I watched an episode of Austin City Limits with JT as the guest artist and I was reminded of why he has been such an influence over my playing. For instance, if you watch the video above, listen closely to the guitar playing. There’s A LOT going on!

Which brings me to the title of this article. I think many people – even my contemporaries – view JT as a great songwriter. And I believe that his incredible songwriting has always overshadowed his guitar playing. But his technique is absolutely incredible. Last night, as I watched Austin City Limits, I was literally transfixed by how JT played and approached his instrument. It wasn’t just what he played, but what he didn’t play that I found so amazing. And that’s mark of a true master; that is, a master is one who can express their message in a just a few notes that others may take many more to accomplish.

There’s an economy to JT’s playing that I think very few have mastered. I’ve seen it with jazz musicians like Miles Davis, but very few guitarists. To me, JT is that rare guitarist that can say so much with just a minimum amount of notes. 

Could be I’m way off with respect to JT being an unsung hero, but to me, he’s once of the best guitarists in the history of the instrument.

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