WORDS OF WISDOM BY JOHNNY MARR


Johnny Marr quotes

[On Pete Townshend]

You can’t beat that run of ’60s singles. Pete Townshend’s musical, compositional style is particularly unique. Very harmonic. I can understand why Pete liked the Beach Boys so much. Something like Pictures Of Lily is so impressive. An amazing piece of music. It’s a beat group, comes out of the traps really explosively but with these super harmonic verses, which he manages to squeeze so many chords into. And does so on a Rickenbacker 12-string. That takes some doing! Then it jumps to a key change. All the while you have this dreamy vocal melody against this explosive beat group approach. Then he comes at it again with all these chords and changes, the guitars getting louder, the drums riffing like crazy. Then – bang! – you get this proto-punk riff – danga da dang dang! – with a key change. So you’re only a minute in and he’s already written more ideas than most people put in four singles, and that’s before you get to the French horn solo!

He’s the best of the ’60s guitar players by miles. Definitely my favourite. George Harrison was inventive, but I love the wildness in Townshend. His solos are brilliant – I Can See For Miles, and Slip Kid – and he was always making progress. You can hear him developing his playing. I love that fluid lead playing he was doing in the ’80s, like on Eminence Front. Then there’s his acoustic playing. Listen to the 12-string on Substitute. I’m Free is a great acoustic guitar track. And what he did on Pinball Wizard invented a whole thing. On the demos, too, you hear incredible acoustic guitar. It’s neither the pretty picking nor the proficient strum. His approach to acoustic is fierce and dynamic – completely individual, and you can hear that on Tommy and the Quadrophenia demos.

Johnny Marr, Mojo Magazine 2015
Photo: frontrowliveent.com

Comments

comments

Previous Scarlet Page: Resonators, a visually stylized compendium of guitar icons
Next David Bowie: 1947 - 2016, the cannibal of pop culture