Tim Mosenfelder, Getty Images As ZZ Top prepares to share a few show dates with…
- Posted on Mar 29th 2011 4:30PM by Lou Carlozo
Most guys with that kind of pedigree might think they deserve to rest on their laurels and play the same hits for adoring Baby Boomers. But not McGuinn, who's all about keeping his music vital and current -- even as he dives into folk's oldest and deepest recesses.
"I find that a lot of folk music is getting lost," McGuinn tells Spinner. "That's why I started the Folk Den." McGuinn updates his Folk Den website regularly, uploading lyrics and chords on anything from a rare sea shanty to the creepy 'Polly Vaughn,' which McGuinn describes as "an old Irish folk song about a hunter who mistakenly shoots his true love thinking her to be a swan."
In addition to that, McGuinn is working on two goals that sound like full-time jobs in and of themselves: a documentary about his musical life, and getting better at the guitar. The documentary project, he explains, is an outgrowth of his on-again, off-again memoirs, which he's been working on for some 20-plus years. "The written autobiography is on my computer and I don't have any drive to put it out at the moment," he says. "But the documentary is sort of a video version of my 'Live From Mars' CD. We have interviews with friends and people in the business like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, Judy Collins and Dave Barry and Pete Seeger. Hopefully we'll get that out pretty soon." The film will be titled 'The River Flows,' which is the opening line from the title song the 1969 Byrds album 'The Ballad of Easy Rider': "The river flows/It flows to the sea/Wherever that river goes/That's where I want to be."
As to the latter goal of increased axe prowess, let's just say that McGuinn getting better is a lot like Eddie Van Halen taking guitar lessons. His approach of applying rapid-fire banjo picking (think Flatt and Scruggs at their foggy-mountain fastest) to 12-string electric guitar is so hard to master it lies beyond mere "expert" skill level. Then again, it helps that McGuinn invented this "jingle-jangle" method and sound in the first place.
Reports from McGuinn's most recent tour jaunts have him riffing and rocking at a speed to put even heavy metal axemen to shame. If you don't believe us, take the word of another '60s icon. "I just played with Joan Baez and she came up to me and said, 'Have you gotten better?'" McGuinn says.
These days, McGuinn feels more in the groove than ever, an outgrowth of the Christian faith he shares with his longtime wife and manager Camilla. "It gives a peace to the whole thing," he says. "I'm not really trying to spin my wheels or trying to be famous anymore. I know that my job is to play music. In the '60s, I didn't have the peace but I had the top-of-the-charts action going. Now I have the peace, and I get to travel on tour with my wife, too, so it's like a second honeymoon."
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