Tab Benoit’s version of “Shelter Me” is pure genius. In fact, it was so good that it made its way onto TV as the Sons of Guns theme song, which is a popular show about a Louisiana arms manufacturer on the Discovery Channel. The guitar’s simple stinging and repetitive rhythm builds and builds, as a great compliment in this remake of the original Buddy Miller version.
“And on a rainy night” by Shawn Mullins, haunted me the first time I heard it. It was one of those songs where the guitar just reaches into you and grabs hold. Shawn’s voice is the other half of this equation, which is the perfect accompaniment to the guitar. The song holds steady until the end, where it picks up in to a great crescendo and the whole tone of the song changes.
If you haven’t ever heard James Taylor’s “Steam Roller,” do yourself a favor. Stop reading this right now, and find that song! You will hear what is quite possibly, one of the very best renditions of a blues song ever to have ever been sung by a white man. Plus, who would have ever fathomed they’d hear James Taylor drop the F-bomb?
“All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix is one song that nearly puts me at a loss for words. This man does not even play the guitar… he summons witchcraft from somewhere deep and dark inside his being, and merely releases it upon the strings of a guitar. Just hearing the first three seconds of “All Along The Watchtower” drums up cinematic images of Vietnam era helicopters flying through dense Asian jungles. Honestly, it’s difficult to really even have him on this list, because his abilities are so transcendent.
A guitar riff is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one mentions Michael Jackson. Although, it is near impossible to imagine “Beat It” without that iconic electric guitar adding a little 80’s rock edge to the song. It’s an interesting dynamic in this song, when such a prominent instrument almost rides shot gun to Michael’s driving and renowned voice. Give this song another listen, and hear the guitar again… for the first time.
Norman Brown is possibly one of the most talented guitarists that I’ve ever heard. His jazz songs “The Feeling I get” and “Just Chillin’” off of the Just Chilin’ album are two excellent showcases of his jazz based talent.
The guitar is so subtle in “6th Avenue Heartache” by the Wallflowers, that it lends the piece some very interesting depth. It would be an easy case to make if one wanted to classify the song as a duet between Jakob Dylan and the slide guitar, which was played by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. An interesting side note for this song is that Dylan wrote this song when he 18 years old.
Oasis is one of the first bands I ever tried to mimic when I first picked up a guitar. “Wonderwall” is the name of the song I tried to duplicate. To this day I still have trouble with the strum pattern, but none the less, I love this song.
Santana’s “Smooth” reminds me of what I would imagine to be the after effects of a flash bomb. What I mean by this is that there was just pure, initial shock the first time I heard it. It probably took a solid 30 seconds for me to realize what was going on. The way that Carlos Santana manipulates those guitar strings is next to insane. Couple that with raspy and mysterious vocals of Rob Thomas, and you have a formula for a very explosive song.
I have to admit that when I hear Billy Joe of Green Day, his voice usually upstages the guitar in my opinion. It’s just one of those unmistakable voices. “When I come around” happens to be one song that the guitar sticks out to me, and tends to stay stuck in my head all day. In a way that is classic and unequivocal.