Do you ever listen back to your slide parts and think, ‘I was on fire at that session’?
“I don’t have that thought often! I don’t listen back much, but occasionally, we’ll relearn a tune and there’s something you don’t remember playing that you mildly enjoy. That happens. I mean, I try not to sit around and be a fan of my own stuff, but when we recorded Midnight In Harlem, as that solo section went down, it was so effortless and I just remember having that feeling that, y’know, this is what it feels like to record a tune you’re gonna be proud of for a long time.
"There are times when you get in a studio, or onstage, and it just happens. There’s other nights and other tracks where you just have to beat it into shape. But when this stuff is really flying, it becomes second nature.”
Do you feel like slide is flourishing – or is it a dying art?
“It’s around. I mean, there’s guys like Luther Dickinson, and there’s a lot of young guys. I remember watching this documentary on the knuckleball in Major League Baseball, and how there’s only ever one or two guys in the league that do it at any time. I feel like the slide is that way, too. It’s always been there in small numbers, but it’s a very specialised thing. There’s only going to be a certain percentage that take it up. And I like that.”
Do you have any advice for our readers on how to improve at slide?
“There are little things. Like, I remember being told how after you hit a note, you should fall off the note, y’know, instead of just laying right on it, or hitting the note and heading up. Instead of doing that, you kinda fall off of it, which is I think what happens naturally when you sing or talk.”
You’re a slide god, of course. Have you analysed how your style differs from that of other players?
“Y’know, I haven’t studied it enough to say, but I think it’s just the way you hear things and go about things. I think growing up around that sound gave me a serious head start. I don’t think there’s anything I’m doing that’s so difficult that other people aren’t doing it now – or won’t blow past it in the near future. I’ve always, up to this point, been the young guy looking up to people. But I’ve recently heard some young players where I’ve started thinking, ‘S**t, I gotta get it together, there’s people coming for ya!’”