Magnatone Giveawya

August Issue
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Exclusive Stream of Eric Johnson's "Europe Live"

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“Manhattan”
Wes Montgomery was probably my biggest influence on this tune. It has a little bit of room for improvisation—not a whole lot. No matter what style of music you’re playing, it’s important to open up and learn about harmony and how to play through different chord changes instead of just being boxed into one idiom. It’s a logical way to go, becauseyou don’t have to lose anything. There have been times where I’ve been boxed in and you just use that same alphabet to rehash what you’re trying to say. Once you start to open up, you realize there are a lot of different ways to play through chords. And there are a lot of different chords you can add to a progression. That’s when it gets exciting.

“Zap”
We hadn’t played that in a long time. It really isn’t much different from the original version [on Tones]. We pretty much approached the themes the same way, although the solos are different.

“Song for Life”
That was the only track from the Paris show. In fact, we didn’t record that show live, so this is a really funky board tape that we EQ’d a bit. I like the way the song turned out. You can barely hear it, but Chris [Maresh, bassist] and Wayne are playing bass and percussion in the background. It’s not a good enough recording where you can really hear it, I wish we had been recording that night, but I thought it was a nice performance so we threw it on the record. I used my signature model Martin. I’m hoping to make an acoustic record here sometime soon. I’ve already started a few tracks for it.

“Fatdaddy”
It’s just a comp on the Jeff Beck/Jan Hammer-type stuff. The solo is different every night, of course, but I keep the arrangement pretty tight from night to night. That tune is just a riff tune. I don’t think it’s the greatest tune in the world and I don’t know if I’m going to play it anymore. Every time I play it I get a mixed response to it, plus it’s kind of a handful. It has this funk beat that’s played way too fast and it has all these fast riffs and it’s just a jumbled-up thing. Every once in a while it comes off good, but it has a real tendency to not come off very well. We played it on a couple of the other shows on this tour and it was just horrid. It was depressing. If I’d been in the audience, I would have left.

“Last House on the Block”
The crowd loves this song. I think that’s because there’s this huge part in the middle that’s totally up for grabs. Basically, there’s seven minutes where we have no clue what’s going on and we can do whatever we want. So what happens is you play spontaneously and in the moment and people really respond to that. There’s an immediacy to it and it’s different every night.

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