[Slowhand] EC Guitar Playing

paul stewart paulstewart64 at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 22 05:39:18 EDT 2007

Hi everyone

I've read with interest and a smile many people's opinions of Eric's guitar
playing. As a gigging guitar player with 30 years experience I'd like to
make a few comments partly in defence of Eric but I also accept that he's
admitted he's lazy. Let's face it, the comments made about reforming Cream
and the amount of playing Eric had to do, demonstrated that he's not
prepared to push himself, only in extreme circumstances.

To compare Eric's playing today to that of 20/30 years ago is partially
unfair. Every guitarist I know (including me) plays differently in their
later years compared to their youth. I can't remember any playing with the
same fire as they once did.

When Eric became famous, mentally he was angry, confused and in his own
words at one time, almost a blues purist. With this combination of emotion
he played with more aggression and his choice of sound reflected that too.

Over the years, Eric, like most of us, has mellowed and this is bound to be
reflected in his playing. You just can't expect a guy in his 60's to play
for 2 hours with the same emotional content as he did 30/40 years ago,
because that's not where he is now. There may be brief flashes of his former
brilliance and that's the best you're going to get.

But, just because Eric's playing has changed it doesn't mean it's not good,
it's just different. Sadly, those who were turned on by the guitar playing
revelation in the late 60's - early 70's are not going to get the same buzz
again, hence the disappointment.

There's another point worth mentioning that's not about Eric's guitar
playing but about our expections...

Have you seen the film The Matrix? When you first saw it, the film was
pretty far out. Technically and emotionally, it was a huge jump for a
watcher to make and therefore was deemed an amazing film with great reviews.
The same could be said for Star Wars when it was first viewed in 70's.
Here's my point. Once you've made the leap, it's hard to find something that
gives you the same again and that's one of the reasons why sequels appear so
disappointing. With The Matrix, we already had got it that another world
existed (the great leap) and now we're in that world for the sequel, where
can it take us to? Struggling aren't we.

This is just the same for guitar players. Jeff Beck doesn't play with the
same fire as he did 30 years ago. But Jeff didn't have the emotional input
that Eric did and that's why, as much as he's an amazing guitarist, people
do not compare his playing in the same way. Jeff did not give us that
initial amazing high - just superb consistency over the years. Also, I think
he's prepared to work at it a little longer too. Saying that. he's hasn't
led Eric's life and overcome his addictions too.

I have no problem with anyone expressing an opinion about Eric's playing -
it's healthy. But please, don't ask the man to do what he cannot and that's
turn the clock back. Yes he can stretch more and deliver blistering guitar
playing, albeit for shorter time periods, and yes if pushed he could present
us with a few surprises, but don't dwell on the past because you're only
going to get frustrated with this great man.

One final point. I've also been disappointed with Eric's albums of late. I
think his record company are partially to blame and I wonder how much he is
pushed to deliver good material. He certainly is capable of much more and
he'd be better working with different writers because currently no one is
delivering him good songs. The record company have also disappointed over
the years with their meagre efforts at putting out good material. There must
be so much good convert footage from this last tour to put out a brilliant
cd and DVD, combining a number of venues. No doubt they'll short change us
fans yet again sometime this year.

Best wishes to everyone wherever you may be.

Paul Stewart

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