Slightly baffled by Eric Johnson

ndcaster

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Posts
11,070
Location
Indiana
a unique voice and sensibility

big fan

wish he would talk less and play more

and cut loose more often
 

Winky

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 6, 2011
Posts
471
Location
Canada
So you like the guys who play the same style of material over and over for years? Maybe as an artist different styles appeal to him. I don't think it would be wise for him to truncate his interests just so you can be happier or at least, less bothered.

Not at all. I listen to a fairly wide variety of music, but when I'm in the mood for a particular style, I tend to like a record to be fairly consistent within that style. I tend to listen to a record from start to finish. I don't particularly like compilations, or even "greatest hits" records; and can't stand shuffle or random play. On first listen, Eric's stuff can sound a bit like that. It's the amount of variation within single records that I find disconcerting, not that he has records which are in different and evolving styles.

I'm going to listen to more of his stuff and try to appreciate the variety, rather than be slightly annoyed by it.
 
Last edited:

Winky

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 6, 2011
Posts
471
Location
Canada
He's a BOSS, and he can do whatever he wants whether I totally love every song or not. I tend to think of the songs that I don't care for as my failure rather than his.

Same goes for Michael Hedges and many others.

Interesting that you mention Hedges. Some of Eric's stuff reminded me of Michael's work. And that's great.
 

Winky

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 6, 2011
Posts
471
Location
Canada
Eric Johnson has been in my top 5 guitarists for more years than I can remember. Very few guitarists can master most all electric and acoustic guitar styles as well as being a great pianist on the side. I read an interview he did a number of years back on how he comes up with some of his signature chord shapes and string skipping patterns. He comes up with many of his ideas on the piano and then works to transfer them to the guitar. Piano music is not guitar friendly, yet, he pulls it off. He's a freakin' musical genius. I own every recording he's ever made and, while I'm not really into certain styles, I'll listen to Eric play them just as a counterpoint to everything else he does. Speed equal to Paul Gilbert, Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. Technique equal to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jerry Reed, Chet Atkins, Guthrie Govan, Kenny Burrell, Bill Frisell. Tone equal to or better than Gary Moore, David Gilmour or Carlos Santana. Also ..... My wife and I have met Eric on a couple of occasions and he's one of the most polite down to earth folk we've ever met. When all the instruments are put away he's just a plain old super friendly guy you'd love to have as a neighbor.

That is a tremendous recommendation. Thank-you. I am committed to give his music more time, and to learn to really appreciate it.
 

Winky

Tele-Meister
Joined
Nov 6, 2011
Posts
471
Location
Canada
I first saw Eric in 1974, at the Armadillo World Headquarters.
I met him at my music store job (Picker’s Paradise) in 1975, and took a summer’s worth of lessons from him.
I was 18, Eric was 21.
For me, it was a life changing experience.
Eric has always been incredibly versatile.
He plays all kinds of styles.
He taught me his great country instrumental Dusty, and a lot of extremely useful chord theory.
He was, unsurprisingly, a fantastic teacher.
Eric is a singular musician, and is still my favorite.

Wow. Thanks. I'm convinced. He's going to get a lot more of my time.
 

arlum

Tele-Afflicted
Platinum Supporter
Joined
Jun 7, 2018
Posts
1,804
Age
67
Location
O'Fallon, MO
Get his UP Close album. The original version from 2010. There was a second version released called Up Close, (another look), before he toured Europe but that version just isn't as good. The mix has been altered and some of the spacey interludes between tracks aren't there. He's got some great guests on the album with him and the album itself is just so well put together. I think of it as his Sgt. Peppers. There's a blues track titled "Texas" that features Steve Miller on vocals and Jimmie Vaughan on backing guitar. Hearing the stylistic differences between Jimmie's old style Texas blues on one side of the mix and Eric's take on the other is wonderful. The following track is titled "Gem". It's all Eric and it's one of the most beautiful electric guitar instrumentals I've ever heard. There's also a track titled "Austin" that features Jonny Lang that's pretty cool. *Important. Also .... *listen to tracks 11 trough 14 as a continuous piece of music and think of the psychedelic recordings of The Beatles. You won't regret it.
 

Peegoo

Doctor of Teleocity
Joined
Oct 11, 2019
Posts
12,508
Location
Beast of Bourbon
If you're unaware, Johnson played on Christopher Cross' debut rekkid from 1979, on the tune below. Larry Carlton played on another one, and Jay Graydon (who played the solo on Steely Dan's tune Peg) contributed on two of the tunes. Cross hisself sprayed blistering guitar all over the album too; he's a formidable player. If you didn't know, Stevie Vaughan's #1 Strat belonged to Cross before Stevie got his hands on it.

 

brookdalebill

Tele Axpert
Ad Free Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Posts
115,287
Age
64
Location
Austin, Tx
If you're unaware, Johnson played on Christopher Cross' debut rekkid from 1979, on the tune below. Larry Carlton played on another one, and Jay Graydon (who played the solo on Steely Dan's tune Peg) contributed on two of the tunes. Cross hisself sprayed blistering guitar all over the album too; he's a formidable player. If you didn't know, Stevie Vaughan's #1 Strat belonged to Cross before Stevie got his hands on it.



Mr. Geppert (Cross) is indeed a fine guitarist!
Eric also played on Cat Stevens’ Bad Brakes and Rodney Crowell’s Oh King Richard.
 
Last edited:

Ron R

Poster Extraordinaire
Silver Supporter
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Posts
5,165
Age
56
Location
Raleigh, NC
I've been listening to some of his stuff, and enjoy quite a bit of it, but I find he spans across a wide range (too wide?) of styles, even on a single record. It swings from blues to pop to folk to new-age. I find it a bit disconcerting. He's obviously a great player, but I kind of wish he'd settle down a bit in terms of styles. Any comments or suggestions?
What you're describing is a big part of why I like and respect him.
 

Cheap Trills

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
May 11, 2016
Posts
1,219
Location
NJ
I'm kind of with you on this. He's one of my favorite guitarists, and I own a few albums, but I don't really listen to them in their entirety. But, I love his improvisations. During his live shows, at least recently, he'll just go off the cuff and play solo for a while and it's beautiful. He did an extended solo improvisation at a show at BB Kings in NYC, about 15 minutes of noodling, and it might be the most immersed I've ever been listening to someone else play guitar. So, I think it's fair to love a person's playing without loving their albums.
 

hepular

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Posts
1,269
Location
abilene, tx
it's funny how folks code things. Johnson's tone is instantly identifiable & it hasn't yet devolved into a cliche self-parody. (Santana!). But given how endlessly the "blues-tone" has been copied and beaten senseless, I don't hear it as emotional anymore: like, i almost can't stand bends anymore, but Johnson's little push-slides for punctuation and his attack-and-release, that communicates to me.

Think Bukovac explained it in a vid yesterday: even Vaughan could sound like he was just letting his fingers go in patterns (cuz, really, after the 5000th run-through of Voodoo Child in a form that the audience demands, what's left but a gymnastics performance?), Johnson's improvs go places from his singing and heart that sometimes challenge the comfort level of his fingers.
 

joe_cpwe

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Nov 27, 2017
Posts
1,171
Age
52
Location
WI, USA
I haven't listened to all EJ albums.

On the ones I know I like the variety, like going into an acoustic song, because it gives my ears a rest from the rest of his electric style, which is pretty distinct sounding to me. Those 'breaks' probably make it easier to listen to a whole album for me.

The first two, Tones and Ah Via Musicom I really enjoy. I think I've seen him live 3x.
 
Last edited:

PhredE

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Sep 25, 2017
Posts
1,905
Location
Suburban PDX, OR
I feel somewhat ambiguous about EJ. On the one hand, technically, he's a monster ( I mean that in it's best and most complimentary way). On the other, I also find it difficult to listen to the rapid fire 16th notes in just about every solo.

No doubt, he's evolved and adopted styles of guitar other than just the rock/blues rock thang -- it's totally credible, the real deal. Where I like him best, is in tunes like EastWes, Manhattan or Trademark or the country acoustic type tunes. Sure most of Zap and Cliffs of Dover are brilliant examples of flashy lead playing, but I can only listen to it in limited batches at a time.

I've only managed to catch a couple live performances, but the G3 show in the late 90s (with Vai and Satch!) in the middle they broke from the usual all-out-shred stuff and EJ played Manhattan (on the 335). It was absolutely the best sounding live guitar playing I've heard anywhere, anytime.
 

kennl

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Posts
1,942
Location
Moon Township, PA
at one time, artists released individual songs (singles)
then the “album” concept became fashionable and track-to-track continuity was a consideration - leading to the “concept album” format
current listener trends and attention spans have popularized the single song as the default unit of distribution in the digital age
 

Killing Floor

Poster Extraordinaire
Silver Supporter
Joined
Feb 3, 2021
Posts
7,883
Location
Austin, TX
I listen to Kurt Vile because he’s a brilliant storyteller.

I listen to The Beatles because G Martin is a brilliant arranger.

I listen to Eric Johnson because he’s a brilliant technician.

Sometimes 2 or rarely all 3 come together but usually not. Appreciate him for us strengths which are undeniable.
 

hepular

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Feb 17, 2019
Posts
1,269
Location
abilene, tx
I feel somewhat ambiguous about EJ. On the one hand, technically, he's a monster ( I mean that in it's best and most complimentary way). On the other, I also find it difficult to listen to the rapid fire 16th notes in just about every solo.

No doubt, he's evolved and adopted styles of guitar other than just the rock/blues rock thang -- it's totally credible, the real deal. Where I like him best, is in tunes like EastWes, Manhattan or Trademark or the country acoustic type tunes. Sure most of Zap and Cliffs of Dover are brilliant examples of flashy lead playing, but I can only listen to it in limited batches at a time.

I've only managed to catch a couple live performances, but the G3 show in the late 90s (with Vai and Satch!) in the middle they broke from the usual all-out-shred stuff and EJ played Manhattan (on the 335). It was absolutely the best sounding live guitar playing I've heard anywhere, anytime.


ambivalent. like ambidextrous: ambi-- having two + valent-- values. ambiguous means obscure and not clearly defined . . .
 




Top