The great philosopher David Lee Roth once quipped, “Music is like girlfriends–I’ll never understand the choices some people make!”
He was talking, of course, about his former bandmate Eddie Van Halen, with a succinct triple-gainer that simultaneously threw sand at Eddie, Eddie’s (now-ex-)wife Valerie Bertinelli, and Eddie’s then-singer Sammy Hagar. The quote has always stuck with me, and as I’ve seen friends and bandmates mate and change bands, well, the truth of Mr. Roth’s words have certainly become apparent.
Forget about bandmates, though: I’ve never understood the choices some people make about their guitar gods, either. And since I haven’t gored any sacred cows of rock and roll recently, I thought I’d just namecheck five guitarists whom the world generally seems to acknowledge as “great,” and whom I have no use for. Whatsoever.
So, without further ado, here are the five guitar “gods” I never want to hear another note from. Ever. I’ll do everything I can to avoid hearing them in the future, and I urge you to do the same.
Do it for the kids. They’re counting on you.
5. Eric Clapton. My loathing for Clapton’s solo, um, oeuvre is no secret, so I won’t expound on it again here. However, since I didn’t mention it in my earlier screed against The Clap, may I just take a moment to point out that “Rock and Roll Heart” is even worse than “Lay Down Sally,” and don’t even get me started on anything he’s done since, oh, hell, since ever.
4. The Edge. Once upon a time, Dave Evans was a pretty groundbreaking guitarist. That’s because, for at least the first three U2 records, the guy could barely play. He made the best of it, though, and combined his passion and his echo pedals to create a bold, original sound. Bold and original for a while, anyway. Maybe he’s just a victim of his own success. He’s still got an original sound — I mean, his playing is instantly recognizable — but where it used to invigorate and inspire (see, oh, “Wire” from the Unforgettable Fire, for example) — in recent years it’s just become, well, sonic wallpaper. It’s functional and it covers the space all right, but it’s mighty hard to pay any attention to.
3. Eddie Van Halen. Everyone should hear one Eddie Van Halen guitar solo. Just one. His virtuosity is undeniable, his sound unique, and his chops enviable. But holy shit is he boring, and ultimately kinda monochromatic. Moreover, as his post-Roth work demonstrates, he’s willing to spew his chops all over some of the most insipid cock-schlock imaginable. I mean, “Poundcake”? Jesus. How low can you go?
2. Billy Corgan. “Cherub Rock”: great. Everything else: Not. Period. And that goes quadruple for Zeitgeist.
1. Jerry Garcia. There’s one, just one, Grateful Dead song that I’d rate (“Box of Rain,” for what it’s worth). People have tried over the years to prove to me that Garcia’s status as a guitar hero is justified, but I’ve never gotten it. Where some seem to hear the music of the spheres, I just hear wet noodling.
So in the turnabout is fair play department, I guess I’ll have to list five guitarists whom I’m always willing and eager to hear more from. Stay tuned.