Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Influences and Inspirations: David Gilmour

March 6 - Happy birthday, David Gilmour.

During his years in Pink Floyd, David Gilmour delivered a string of epic, powerful, brilliant performances that established him as an all-time guitar great, indeed coming in at #14 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Guitarists.

"Wish You Were Here," "Comfortably Numb," "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," "Another Brick in the Wall," "Run Like Hell"...and that doesn't even include anything from Dark Side of the Moon.

I consider several of his solos essential for all my students who aspire to play lead guitar, because of their phrasing, bending, vibrato, and his ability to mix from-the-gut blues riffs with well thought out note choices over the chords. I rarely have to suggest it - the songs are usually requested!

Gilmour's diversity is often obscured behind the massive guitar heroics of those songs. His creative use of effects, his tasteful fingerstyle work, the ease with which he integrated funk and blues into the music of what would seem a most un-funky, un-bluesy band. And just for good measure, he was quite proficient at lap steel guitar, which permitted him to add some wonderful parts that contributed immensely to the tracks on which they appear (for example, "Breathe," heard in the clip above). All give evidence of a powerful creative force who took every opportunity to push the boundaries of what was possible within the confines of Pink Floyd.

Here's one of my favorites, "Poles Apart" from The Division Bell. It features a gorgeous finger-picked acoustic guitar part, a graceful and gently building song structure, culminating at 5:17 in a classic Gilmour solo. 

Over-arching it all is his tone. Gilmour's approach to his sound has always been in a state of evolution and development, but every step of the way, he has produced guitar tones that are always clear, beautiful, powerful and distinctive.

Gilmour has re-emerged in the last ten years with a superb solo album, On An Island, and a series of tours, documented on two terrific DVDs, Remember That Night and Live in Gdansk. The live performances, especially, exemplify the maturing Gilmour: less notes, deep feeling, huge sound. His tone has become gigantic, and every note is well considered and given space to express its deepest feeling. Case in point: "On An Island." Bonus: Graham Nash and David Crosby on backup vocals!

Gilmour is a great guitarist not content to rest on his laurels - still evolving, still creative and vibrant; a powerful presence we are lucky to have.

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1 comment:

  1. Oh I wish David Gilmore would play on our continent again! It would be heaven to hear him live in person!