Write Now: Guitar Solos May Speak To Many
People listen to music for different reasons.
That’s the joy of music.
Whether you like country, any genre of jazz, any genre of pop, classical, and everything in between, something draws you to listen to music. It could be the lyrics, the chord progressions, the rhythms or the timbre of a certain instrument. Whatever it is, you are hooked.
Sometimes, and this is just me, I like hearing the guitar solo in songs. I am not a guitarist at all, but I do like watching guitarists play. As I have written before, I play bass because that instrument resonates with me.
I have always wanted to play guitar. I am not a bassist wannabe guitarist. No, rather, I would like to take lessons to learn about the instrument’s intricacies. There are so many sounds a guitarist can coax from his instrument. And that’s part of the awe in watching a guitarist take command of his instrument. But what I like the most are tasteful solos. There is no minimum time limit or certain techniques that must be used. What I mean is simple: solos that keep you interested and convey and interpret the song at its heart.
There are certain songs that instantly transport me into the song and I develop a new appreciation and respect each time I hear the notes played.
Here are some guitar solos in songs I enjoy.
This song from Robert Plant’s second studio album “Principle of Moments” in 1983. To me this solo evokes emotion. It’s the sound of Robbie Blunt’s guitar that captures my attention. There is no or low distortion, and timbre also complements Plant’s voice. The main riff is heard at the beginning and expanded on during the middle and end of the song. It’s not an overabundance of notes, but notes played with spaces between them as if to let them breathe. Before performing as a solo artist, Plant was the lead singer of Led Zeppelin, one of my favorite bands.
This song is from Red Rider’s 1981 release “As Far As Siam.” I first heard this as the video was rotated on MTV. The singer, Tom Cochrane, became better known with his hit in 1991 “Life Is A Highway.” The solo, played on a pedal steel guitar, which is usually reserved for country music, finds a home in this song. Because of the slide and vibrato, to me, the guitar sounds like someone is crying. This solo again keeps my attention.
The song was also used in the movie “Vision Quest” starring Matthew Modine.
“SULTANS OF SWING”
This song is from Dire Straits’ 1978 eponymous release. Mark Knopfler playing is brilliant and tasteful. The beginning, middle and end of the solo have just the right amount of notes which ring clear with virtually no distortion. If you have seen a video of the band or seen the band live, you probably noticed that Knopfler doesn’t play with a pick, but uses his fingers. To me, this is what makes the solo so enticing.
This song is from Michael Jackson’s 1982 release “Thriller.” I don’t have to go into detail about how popular this album is. The reason for its popularity is because of Jackson, producer Quincy Jones, and the session musicians hired to play. The solo is played by none other than guitar virtuoso Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen scored success with his band Van Halen, but when he lent his talents to this song, it cemented the song’s place in music history. This is my favorite guitar solo because of its raw energy, speed, and sound. If you watch the video for the song, the director got it right, when he showed rival gangs in a fight/dance scene with the solo as a backdrop. The solo captures the fierce competitiveness, the ferocity of opposing forces, and the resolve to come together.
It’s the power of music that speaks to people.
If you have favorite guitar solos, I welcome you to email me your thoughts.