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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"It Might Get Loud" And It Does

I got a chance to see the movie "It Might Get Loud" again the other day when I was gifted it as a DVD. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's a movie revolving around guitarists Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. You find out what makes them tick, their earliest days, and their musical development from each ones own personal perspectives, which is fascinating.

Jack White proves that being a musician is about attitude; knowing down to your core why you're making music and not caring what anyone thinks about it. He's a sloppy player technically, but he's also a real-deal guitar player; a guy that loves the blues and is constantly trying to get to the essence of his feelings and passion, much like Neil Young. I've only met a few players like this, but their vibe is so strong that it transcends any mis-fingered notes or being out of tune. The vibe is so thick you forget all that and just enjoy.

The Edge is an innovator. His technique is limited but you'd never know it because he plays within himself and his limitations so well. That doesn't work for someone playing in a cover band or as a studio musician, but it's the only way to go as an artist. He's developed a whole style around a Memory Man echo unit that is totally his. He's one of the few players in any genre that all you need to hear are a few notes to identify him. How many artists can say that? He also seems like such a nice down to earth guy as well.

Jimmy Page is an icon. He's rock and roll aristocracy. He's on a pedestal and deserves it. He's now influenced several generations of guitarists with his arrangements, choice of notes, and songwriting, and will probably continue to do so way after he's gone. Yet he's a somewhat sloppy player as well, not that that every bothered anyone. Just like Jack White, it's his passion that makes every mis-fingering a joy. His sense of dynamics is a must for any musician to learn, as evidenced in the spot where he plays "Ramble On." If I were a guitar teacher I would insist that every student watch and learn what he's doing dynamically. The notes don't matter, but the dynamic feel is the essence of great music.

Notice a pattern here? None of the three are virtuoso technicians, yet their revered for their playing. They're stylists, they're passionate, and they're masters of their heart. That's what music should be.

But probably the best part of the movie is when the three of them sit down and play together on a soundstage. There's a part in the movie (shown below) where Page begins to play "Whole Lotta Love" and Edge and White are like little kids at their first music lesson. Their jaws are on the floor and their eyes are big. For that brief period of time, they weren't stars, they were us.

Have a look.

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