On the occasion of his Red Bull-sponsored concert tomorrow evening at The Basement in Atlanta (supported by a trio of Atlanta bands: Lyonnais, Faun and a Pan Flute, and Deadcat), Lee Ranaldo graciously bestowed Red Bull with a discursive list of his five favorite guitarists ever. Who knew that you could find such gems at Red Bull’s website?
By the bye, Ranaldo is playing as Lee Ranaldo and the Dust; they’re supporting their 2013 album Last Night on Earth.
Here’s the list, with each “axe-wielder” followed by a representative musical selection of my choosing:
Ranaldo says: “When I first met him, he was playing guitar in no-wave bands like the Theoretical Girls. When I started playing with him in the early 1980s, he was using multiple guitars and tuning them as though he were creating a choir. This was all untried at the time. He wasn’t a classic guitar player in the sense that he could play like Clapton or people like that, but he had the vision of a sound and he adapted the instrument to do it.”
Glenn Branca, “Lesson No. 1 for Electric Guitar”
Ranaldo says: “I grew up playing guitar but at a certain point around the mid-1970s, music got pretty fat and bloated. All the arena rock stuff was something I didn’t relate to and I tuned out of music for a while. But the first Television record was one that knocked me out and made me want to go back to playing and being in a band again. I felt like he synthesised so many different styles, like the San Francisco psychedelic scene to jazz influences like John Coltrane. Sometime, it was like he was trying to play sax solos on the guitar.”
Television, “Marquee Moon”
Ranaldo says: “Joni’s style of open tunings has been a huge influence on me. It’s very unconventional and unique to her. When you hear her playing, you know it’s Joni. She’s not especially showy but among other guitar players, Joni is highly regarded. A lot of people think the Sonic Youth song Hey Joni is a tribute to her but it’s only in the title. When we were writing that song, the idea was to re-approach the song Hey Joe from a female perspective and Thurston [Moore] jokingly suggested calling it Hey Joni. But the lyrics are not about Joni specifically.”
Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”
Ranaldo says: “It’s nothing I could touch in terms of my own playing but Reinhardt’s playing is something that has become quite important to me, if only because he showed what can be done on the guitar. When I hear his music, it feels like something magical is happening.”
Django Reinhardt, “Heavy Artillery (Artillerie Lourde)”
Ranaldo says: “There’s something very fresh about her playing and there’s an energy she has when she’s on stage that I’ve always got a kick out of. She’s one of those players who switches between lead and rhythm, which is something that I also try to do. I hear rumours of a Sleater-Kinney resurgence so hopefully we may get to see her play again very soon.”
Sleater-Kinney, “Not What You Want”
After all that, let’s give a listen to the thing that all of these manifold influences combined to produce, that is, the musical output of Ranaldo himself. Here’s Lee Ranaldo and the Dust, “Ambulancer”:
via Brooklyn Vegan
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Want to sound like Sonic Youth? Lee Ranaldo wants to teach you guitar!