Something for Thursday: Farewell, Jeff Beck


Sad news from the music world yesterday: guitarist Jeff Beck has died. He had a long and unconventional career, which led to some amazing music-making. This song was my introduction to his guitar work, and it quickly became one of my favorite songs of the 80s, and then of all time. Yes, it’s a cover; the original is by the great Curtis Mayfield, whose own versions are well worth seeking out…but this rendition stood in stark contrast to the Van Halen-esque guitar fireworks that were the main role of the guitar at that time (at least, in terms of the guitar-centric music that I was listening to at at the time). Now, I loved hair metal and I yield to no one in my conviction that Eddie Van Halen is one of the all-time greats, but Jeff Beck was something else. He showed me that the guitar could sing, and his playing here doesn’t merely back up Rod Stewart’s vocals; Beck’s playing here is a full partner with Mr. Stewart.

I didn’t realize until quite a few years after I heard this song that Jeff Beck’s career had been as long as it had been. He was apparently difficult to work with at times, but also he was one of those musicians who follows his own instincts and thoughts, with the result being decades of great music-making.

Thank you for the music, Jeff Beck. I hope your guitar is sounding on that very train.

Here is “People Get Ready”.


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