I fell in love with music at an early age. My music tastes varied because of having to ride long distances because we lived waaay back in the woods. It varied by each parent too. Often riding with my mom to doctors’ appointments, we’d be listening to great oldies music from The Temptations, 4 Tops, The Supremes, all of that great stuff. When I rode to work with my Dad, it was the Doobie Brothers, Creedance Clearwater Revival, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. My guitar addiction came when my brother started playing guitar when I was 6 years old.
Layla (Unplugged) – Eric Clapton
My brother (5 years my senior) would sit in his room for hours with his acoustic and the Unplugged album playing, attempting to listen to it and play along. He was a fan of all of the songs, but my obsession grew with this track. When he’d go to school or to a friends house, I’d steal this CD and listen to Layla more times than I could count. The way someone could evoke such emotion with HOW they played blew me away. Looking back, technically speaking it wasn’t perfect, but it hit me right in a spot that made me say “I’ve got to know more about guitar.”
Three O’clock Blues – BB King & Eric Clapton
At 15 I got serious with guitar. I had been playing guitar for about 6 months (acoustic only) before this album released. From the first time I heard Eric Clapton play that intro lick, I was completely hooked on blues guitar. I listened to it every day for weeks on repeat, trying to piece together the lead lines. Every note he and BB played must have gone straight into my heart, because from that point on guitar HAD to be part of my life in some way. Needless to say my first bout of GAS had struck. I begged and pleaded for months, worked my butt off, and Santa ended up bringing me a Wine Red MIM Strat. I was in absolute heaven.
Morning View Sessions – Incubus
I’ve jumped back and forth between so many Incubus songs for this spot, because they all had an impact on me as I was starting to develop my own sound. I’ll just go against the grain and post the whole concert then! Mike Einziger was the reason I fell in love with guitar pedals. Hearing “The Warmth” blew my mind as to how he could get such weird sounds out of a guitar. They could be extremely heavy, funky, jazzy, ambient, and all things in between. If I had to pick the two albums that influenced me the most, it would be Make Yourself and Morning View. Both made me more in love with guitar than any other pieces of music, ever.
That’s Love – Brad Paisley
When I first started dating my wife, I despised country music. I loved it as a kid, but grew to not like it as I found more modern rock music. It was all whining and slow steel guitars and people sounding like they were holding their nose while they were singing. Realistically I was being an idiot and set in my ways. That was an issue, because country was all she would listen to for the most part. She introduced me to Brad Paisley through this song, and I was completely hooked. The guitar was cutting and powerful, the lyrics were funny, and the guy played guitar like no one I’d ever heard. That started my trip into getting Crook telecasters and Dr. Z’s and eventually hooking up with Wampler when they released the Paisley Drive. The Paisley Drive actually sparked a conversation with Jason Wilding that would inevitably lead to me working for Wampler and our great friendship.
Sweet Sweet Baby – Michelle Featherstone
This is a bit of a departure, let me preface this. This is not completely related to guitar, but more-so to music as a means of expressing that which can’t be spoken. My wife and I tried for our son for 3 years, and doctors told us that we’d have to use fertility treatments to have children (if we ever could at all). After a year of heartbreak and pain, we finally discovered my wife was pregnant. The day our son was born, the photographer for the hospital came in and took newborn pictures. She returned later that day with a slide-show, and this song was playing behind pictures of our newborn miracle. The idea of wanting something so bad, seeing it in your arms and hearing that perfect song, it was enough to make us cry. I still can’t listen to the daggone song without a tear of happiness. This song and that experience engrained in me how important music is to life itself. It’s the one thing in life that truly can help whatever emotion you are feeling. It bonds people from all corners of the globe, transcending all of those dumb things the news talks about. This song showed me that it’s all about what FITS the moment, and how it makes you feel and relate to that moment for the rest of your life. That has translated to how I play guitar. I dropped the mindset of fitting in every note I could to just trying to find what fits in the context of the song. It really helped me to LISTEN instead of just trying to fill the space with notes.