Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nels Waxes...

Two examples of why our friend Nels Cline is as good a writer as he is a guitar player. In addition to his moving tribute to recently deceased guitarist Jim Hall, we also found his brief essay about his beloved 1959 Fender Jazzmaster in a book called Instrument, which the Beast has reprinted below:

My guitar was purchased in the summer of 1995 from Mike Watt after the first tour of The Crew of the Flying Saucer. I had to use my old '66 Fender Jaguar on Watt's first solo record and really didn't know the difference between a Jaguar and a Jazzmaster other than the different pickups and switching configurations. I didn't know then that 1959 is one of the best years for Jazzmasters, and that this would end up being my favorite guitar. I first chose both Jazzmasters and Jaguars for their feel and because they have strings behind the bridge and single-coil pickups. I was copying Sonic Youth and Tom Verlaine, basically. But when I finally played the Jazzmaster, I was smitten with the whole feeling of the neck and body, the sound, and the inherent durability. Watt engraved his name on the base of the neck where it joins the body and on the base of the tremolo assembly.

This guitar has done more tours and records than I can count: all the Mike Watt tours, the Geraldine Fibbers tours and Butch album, later records with the Fibbers' Carla Bozulich and Scarnella, dozens of recordings by various improvised projects, including all my solo records since The Inkling, tours with Wilco, and all three records I made with them. This guitar mostly lives in Chicago in the Wilco loft now, and I have a different '59 at home in Los Angeles so that I don't always have to fly back and forth with it. I have been extremely hard on it, as you can see -- it was in perfect shape when I got it.

I play hard. There is actually a very deep and ever-deepening gouge above where the strings stretch from the bridge to the tailpiece, where I play a lot and, apparently, with considerable vigor! Admittedly, the finish was delicate. It is easy to scratch the paint, revealing a purplish hue, much like eggplant. I used to wear my keys on my ant loop, and after hopping up and down on stage with Watt, I created an interesting and rather sizable stippling on the back of the guitar. In the Geraldine Fibbers, I would sometimes throw the guitar to our drummer Kevin Fitzgerald and play my effects pedals while he savaged it with drumsticks, sometimes ripping out the strings, which is difficult to do on a Fender guitar, and bleeding on it. I have bled on it plenty. The Geraldine Fibbers' "Dusted" caused some wounds, and these days Wilco's song "A Shot in the Arm" might be another danger, though I am much smarter now about things like fret wear. The body. . .well, I think it looks great. It's a work in progress, just like me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

(Ripped & Torn)


(Arts Journal)

(Moving Image Research Collections)

(Pitchfork Media)



(The Undisputed Champian)

(Pacific Standard)
(Rolling Stone)

(Brain Pickings)



(West Coast Sound)

(Open Salon)



(L.A. Weekly)


(Resonant Frequency)


(Boston Globe)



(Current Research in Jazz)


(Here, There and Everywhere)

(Tape Op)