Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slide Guitar Through A Leslie Rotating Speaker

If there was any time since 1994 that I missed being in radio it was this morning. As I was planning today’s post, I was uncertain of what to do until I stumbled upon Todd Rundgren’s “Something / Anything” LP and remembered his 1971 hit “I Saw the Light.”

Todd’s slide guitar part sounded surprisingly like George Harrison’s tonality, as the guitar was being amplified through a Leslie rotating speaker. Rundgren plays all of the instruments, does all the vocals, and recorded the entire double album in his living room studio.

This in turn reminded me of Sheryl Crow’s 2005 song “Light in Your Eyes,” which always sounded to me like a Todd Rundgren/George Harrison ripoff. They lyrics are similar to both “I Saw the Light” and “My Sweet Lord” and the guitar was obviously influenced by the quiet Beatle as Crow herself has admitted.

I believe John Shanks plays slide on this cut, but the album’s liner notes are not clear on this. Neither is it clear that he or whomever is using a Leslie. Since the seventies, chorus effects have all but replaced the bulky, low wattage, and mechanically problematic Leslie rotating speaker; however, there is nothing like the sound of the real thing.

Next , it was obvious that George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” from 1970 would be the logical choice to follow “Light in Your Eyes.” The ending chord on Crow’s “Light in Your Eyes” is a Bm and the beginning chord on “My Sweet Lord” is a F#m. It makes a nice mix if you can start the second song as the first ends as the two together create a Bm9.

To round out the set, I included Badfinger’s “Day After Day” at the beginning. This 1972 classic features George Harrison and Pete Ham simultaneously playing the slide leads through a Leslie speaker. Incidentally, part of Badfinger’s “Straight Up” LP was produced by George Harrison (as was this cut) and part of it was produced by Todd Rundgren. Everything is relative.

What about the connection to radio? Over the years, I typically dedicated an hour or two a week to a thematic oldies show. Much like pulls up songs of a similar vein, I would often play songs that either had a similar lyrical theme or had something in common musically – much like today’s post. I decided on stringing the songs together.

In fact, when I played the songs in the intended order and tightly segued the songs together, they worked well as four song unit. Unfortunately with a YouTube playlist, this is lost with the dead air between cuts. For those that want to hear these tunes in order, I have included the four as part playlist.

Badfinger: “Day After Day”
Todd Rundgren: “I Saw the Light”
Sheryl Crow: “The Light In Your Eyes”
George Harrison: “My Sweet Lord”

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