Of all the great Guitar George pieces, the Townes van Zandt one still lingers in my memory. I love outlaw Texas music from the 1970s, and Townes’ tragic life led the way. As Dave described, “Van Zandt had a voice that could be raw and tender at the same time, and his lyrics could be both pointed and poetic. His stories were drawn from the most basic elements of human existence, combining the bleak with the redemptive.” Townes often lived what he wrote, but maybe so we don’t have to, or maybe just to remind us we are not alone in our darkest times.
I will miss Guitar George here at BGS. Conversing back and forth onTwitter and giving each other hat tips in the pieces we wrote was always very rewarding to me. One last request: Guy Clark passed away today. Can we run one more?
Guitar George has been a doorway into great music for 2 years now. As somebody who isn’t historically well-versed musically (Though my taste is impeccable), FNWGG has been a weekly blessing. A way for me to discover the lesser known brilliance of guitarists and their music from corners I would never have explored. However, the one that stands out most in my mind is a very popular artist. I mean VERY popular. But were it not for Guitar George’s April, 2015 post about Prince and his guitar, I would not have discovered just how great the guy was until his death a year later.
George took all the derogatory things I casually knew about Prince and turned them into something cool. He told the backstory of how multi-talented Prince was. He introduced me to the wild diversity of his band. But most of all, he showed me how badass Prince was with a guitar. Prior to that clip of Prince blowing the doors off the building with “She’s Always in My Hair” all I knew about him was the Batman soundtrack (Which is good music too). Prince and his sweet style left us one year and 4 days after that post. And a bevy of memorial pieces have been published since. Rightfully so. But my favorite is still Friday Night with Guitar George: The Purple Episode.
I love Dirty Dave, or Guitar George, if you will. Through all the things we’ve written, one feature has withstood our collective laziness, apathy, and ennui, and it’s Friday Nights. Of the features he’s written, one hit me particularly hard. In the wake of Scott Weiland’s death, Dave hit us with an honest tribute to the wayward front man, including a candid letter from Scott’s wife (who left him), Mary Forsburg. Growing up, my parents music tastes were lacking (for a 5-7 year old kid, anyway). My dad hammered away at the classics–AC/DC, CCR, The Allman Brothers–and my mom listened to country music exclusively. My musical journey into the world of alternative music started with a catchy little jam called “MMMBop,” and reached its peak with the mid-90’s grunge of Scott Weiland. “Interstate Love Song” and “Plush” were huge hits that made me yearn for big drums, big guitars, and the whining, emotional angst that would lead me down a path to an early-Aught’s emo-scene that shaped my career and dreams.
However, the Guitar George writing I’ll remember the most is one that no one was privy to, save for a select few. Three years before we launched this God-forsaken web site, I ended up in a group email with SRB and Dave, where the seeds were planted for this column and indeed, BGS.
I am trying to work my way through the stack of CDs you burned for me, but I am not making much progress: I can’t get past Eric Church and the first two tracks of Van Lear Rose. I am wearing out the repeat button on my car stereo.
We know that Eric grew up listening to Waylon and Johnny and Hank Jr. I reckon he mighta had some Petty and Stones CDs in his room, too. When Iris and I saw Eric a few years ago as the warm-up for Bob Seger, he was just getting cranked up; he is hitting high gear now.
The first song on Van Lear Rose, the title track, would be cheesy and lame if attempted by anyone but Loretta. “Portland Oregon” sounds like it could have come straight off Icky Thump. I have come to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing that Jack White cannot do with a guitar.
Wish I had the ingredients for a Sloe Gin Fizz.
This email was sent June 24th of 2011. A few months later, I would search for it and bookmark it. Dave was listening to Carolina, which features “Smoke a Little Smoke,” and was my first foray into Eric Church. When Dave proclaimed that he was hitting high gear now, he wasn’t kidding. A month later, on July 26th, Church would release Chief, which featured the now-ubiquitous bar-standards “Drink in my Hand” and “Springsteen,” peaked at #1 in the US Top 200, took home the Grammy for Best Country Album, and firmly established Church as modern country’s new outlaw rockstar. Five years later I still laugh at this email. Maybe Dave saw something in Church I didn’t, or maybe he just recognizes talent when he sees it. Some would say it was prophetic. I just say he’s Guitar George.
Over the time that the Braves General Store has existed in the blogosphere, nothing has been more consistent than Guitar George. Series Previews came and went, as did College Football Roundups, NFL Precaps, Pretty Little Liars reviews, and even The 500. All that time, Guitar George kept pumping along, with one quality piece after another for 100 weeks. George on a regular Friday night was a fun and engaging highlight to my week. George at his best, however, was capable of stringing together words that would sit with me for weeks or months.
From the Elmore James edition: “A three-inch section of hollow glass is the humble object that represents a balm to the soul, a salve to weary bones and a troubled mind.”
From the Devil Makes Three edition: “After all, isn’t that what the teachings of Jesus really boil down to: acknowledging the disappointments, frailties and imperfections in ourselves and in others so that words like love, forgiveness and redemption can have meaning?”
And from the Tumbling Dice edition: “ Why is Moby Dick widely considered one of the best novels ever written? It is a long, meandering, at times maddeningly self-indulgent book with—let’s face it—a pretty pedestrian plot: a 19th Century whaling captain is pissed off at an immense white whale who bit off his leg, so he scours the vastness of the Pacific Ocean to find this one animal and exact his revenge upon it, but in the process he loses first his mind, then his life. Yet to read Moby Dick is to be completely spellbound by the vivid imagery, by Herman Melville’s stunning command of the English language, and by the powerful depictions of the complex and oftentimes frightening human psyche.”
Picking a single favorite post from all of the highlights seems impossible. The Miranda Lambert edition that he wrote as a dedication to his daughter (my sister) is one that still gives me chills. The storytelling in the Talking Heads edition is superb, and it’s impossible to read the opening line without being captured enough to read the rest of the paragraph for the 420th time. And then there’s all the profiles and bios and history lessons of all-time greats along with relatively unknowns, like the unforgettable Gram Parsons edition.
Ultimately, if I had to pick one that I would call Guitar George at his absolute best, it would have to be the RL Burnside edition. I had the unique pleasure of conversing weekly with George as he got each post ready to go, and one of the things he continued to come back to was how he never wanted to get in his own way and make his post about him rather than the music. The Burnside edition begins with what is likely my all-time favorite musician quote, and ends with an exemplary video that perfectly captures what FNWGG is all about. In between are 456 perfectly crafted words that do exactly want George wanted: highlight and lift up the subject matter without distracting from it a bit. “Such is the profound irony of the Delta Blues: pleasure and pain get all mixed up together inside a person’s soul, and when that blended mess seeps out, it lands on the frets of a guitar and in the throat of a singer,” has to be one of the greatest description of the blues ever written.
From all of the Braves General Store: Thank you, Guitar George, for a truly unforgettable blogging run.