I got an email from my friend Lena the other day with the subject line “Guitarists Rule the World.” It included a link to a guitarist I’ve never paid much attention to. I’m not sure whether or not she was teasing me. Her jazz tastes lean more mainstream than mine, and she listens to opera where I’m more inclined toward contry and punk. But she had just accompanied me to photograph Marc Ribot while I interviewed him for Guitar Player magazine, and so was forced to listen to Marc and I talk about guitars for 90 minutes. So there was common ground.
And guitars had been on my mind anyway. The week before the meeting with Ribot, I got to interview another phenom of the outre guitar, James “Blood” Ulmer (this time for the newly christened NYC Jazz Record). I was gearing up to write about the Guitar Heroes luthier show at the Met and the Picasso Guitars show at MoMA for the NY Press. And I was three through a run of four Prince shows (over three months) at Madison Square Garden, which I was covering for the Brooklyn Rail. The night after the fourth of those shows, I went to see another fave guitarist of mine, Andy Gill, with Gang of Four. And I found myself thinking, yes, guitars do rule the world. Whatever Lena meant by that, she was right in the end. And I thought maybe I should write. About guitars. And guitarists. And first encounters.