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I imagine that you have a pretty nice guitar collection. What were the main acoustics and electrics you used on the album?
“I do have a pretty good collection, yeah. I used a really nice ’54 Strat on If She Called, but it’s not one of mine; I borrowed it from a friend, Albhy Galuten. It’s a beautiful guitar – very, very expensive. I have three really good D45s. I take them on the road, too. A lot of people won’t take their good guitars on the road, but I love these guitars and I love playing them, so I use them. I have a Gibson J200 that the Custom Shop made for me, a rosewood J200. The Custom Shop still builds some really fine guitars.
“On electric stuff, I typically play an Anderson Strat, a very fine, fine guitar. I have an Alembic electric 12-string, too; it’s probably 30, 40 years old. They made it for me… jeez, a while ago. I think it’s the best electric 12-string in the world, better than the Rickenbacker. I can’t play a Rickenbacker – the neck’s too narrow. Roger McGuinn can play a Rick because he could play banjo.”
Do you feel as though your guitar playing gets overlooked sometimes? You’ve played alongside people like Stephen Stills, Roger, Neil Young –
“No, I don’t. I don’t think about it. I’m happy with it [laughs], and it’s good enough to where I can write, which is the key thing. I can play medium-good rhythm guitar. There are guys who can do it better. That rhythm guitar player with Daft Punk – know what I’m talkin’ about? [Laughs] Oh yeah – he’s fantastic.
“I’m OK on the guitar; I try really hard. But I know that I’ll never be able to play as well as Stephen, not in this lifetime. I will never be able to pay as well as Neil, not in this lifetime. Or David Gilmour, to whom Fender should erect a monument, or any of the other great players – Eric! There’s dozens of them. I’m not competitive, though. I love playing electric guitar, but I don’t expect to be Jimi Hendrix.
“It’s funny: I sat right behind Hendrix, right behind his amplifiers. I snuck out in the dark, just before they hit him with a spotlight. This was at a place in LA – I don’t remember which venue. I leaned against his amps so that they were vibrating my chest. Wow! [Laughs] What a sensation.”
I can only imagine.
“He was a much calmer guy than you might expect – not flashy or showy or crazy in person. He was quiet and normal. What a talent. He was a deep cat.”
You’re 72 years old, but your voice is still remarkably intact. Why do you think that is? Granted, you haven’t always taken the best care of yourself.
[Laughs] “No, I… Hey, I’ve abused my throat massively, smoking things. I used to drink, a long time ago, but not ever the way real whiskey drinkers drink. I’ve never been a real drinker – I can’t handle booze. I don’t know how my voice works; I’m just lucky… and grateful. I work really hard to not abuse it. It’s fun, man.” [Laughs]