Most guys I know are assholes. I have some great asshole friends, but that's not the point. Friendship has got nothing to do with that. It's 'can you hang, can you talk about this without any feeling of distance between you?' Friendship is the diminishing of distance between people. That's what friendship is, and to me it's one of the most important things in the world.
There's something beautifully friendly and elevating about a bunch of guys playing music together. This wonderful little world that is unassailable. It's really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it's all for one purpose, and there's no flies in the ointment, for a while. And nobody conducting, it's all up to you. It's really jazz__that's the big secret. Rock and roll ain't nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.
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In fact, I take the view that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn't bother to spring for two joints - heaven and hell. They're the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mummy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and a kiss and play your harps. Hell is the same place - no fire and brimstone - but they all pass by and don't see you. There's nothing, no recognition. You're waving, "It's me, your father," but you're invisible. You're on a cloud, you've got your harp, but you can't play with nobody because they don't see you. That's hell.
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... I don't like to go into the studio with all the songs worked out and planned before hand ... you've got to give the band something to use its imagination on as well. That can make a very ordinary song come alive into something totally different ... the X-factor - so important in rock and roll - which is the feel..
I take the view that God, in his infinite wisdom, didn't bother to spring for two joints - heaven and hell. They're the same place, but heaven is when you get everything you want and you meet Mommy and Daddy and your best friends and you all have a hug and a kiss and play your harps. Hell is the same place - no fire and brimstone - but they just all pass by and don't see you. There's nothing, no recognition. You're waving, "It's me, your father, " but you're invisible. You're on a cloud, you've got your harp, but you can't play with nobody because they don't see you. That's hell.
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The thing about being a songwriter, once you realize you are one, is that to provide ammo, you start to become an observer. ... You're constantly on the alert. That faculty gets trained in you over the years: observing people, how they react to one another, which in a way makes you weirdly distant. ... It's a little of Peeping Tom, being a song-writer.
I'd been an expert at taking beatings. Then I had a lucky break where I did a bully in, by total sheer luck. ... One minute I was the mark, and with just one swift move, I put the big man in school down. ... Once he was down, the whole atmosphere in the schoolyard changed. A huge cloud seemed to be lifted from me. ... I'd never been aware the cloud was so large.
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What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people's hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you're playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.
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What interested me about Chuck Berry was the way he could step out of the rhythm part with such ease, throwing in a nice, simple riff, and then drop straight into the feel of it again. We used to play a lot more rhythm stuff. We'd do away with the differences between lead and rhythm guitar. You can't go into a shop and ask for a "lead guitar". You're a guitar player, and you play a guitar.
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One guy can ruin an instrument. Jimi Hendrix, bless his heart - how I wish he was still around - almost inadvertently ruined guitar. Because he was the only cat who could do it like that. Everybody else just screwed it up, and thought wailing away (on the guitar) is the answer. But it ain't; you've got to be a Jimi to do that, you've got to be one of the special cats.
You're sitting with some guys, and you're playing and you go, "Ooh, yeah!" That feeling is worth more than anything. There's a certain moment when you realize that you've actually just left the planet for a bit and that nobody can touch you. You're elevated because you're with a bunch of guys that want to do the same thing as you. And when it works, baby, you've got wings. You know you've been somewhere most people will never get; you've been to a special place.