March 8th, 2007


Are guitar solos lame?

I was thinking about this very same question the other day as I struggled through the newest Wilco record.  I was IMing with Mike that I wasn't so hot on the record, and he flipped out that I'd heard it already and he hadn't, so I sent him the sendspace link (which is probably down by now)... and so when Mike finally heard it, he sent me this text message: 

Nels Cline sounds all wrong in this band.  Well, the band sounds all wrong, but he ruins the good moments.

As a guitarist - as a lead guitarist, to be more specific - it's been a rough last couple years, because it's become somewhat true - guitar solos are kinda lame.  Not always, of course, but I'd be hardpressed to name any really kick-ass - better yet, necessary - guitar solos that have been released on any album in the last 10 years.  And this is coming from someone who used to worship Trey Anastasio so much so that I, still to this day, use 2 Tube Screamers in my pedal chain.  When I think about the bands that I've been in, and how we would write songs... somewhere around 5 or 6 years ago, the "solo section" stopped being written, and as a result I've had to make numerous changes to my style of playing - I'm much more of a textural player as opposed to a noodler these days (at least, I hope so). 

Back in the day, of course, guitar solos were absolutely necessary - they made sense, they pushed the song along, they were actually something you'd look forward to hearing.   But these days, guitar solos are generally viewed masturbatory and and redundant - why else have they completely disappeared?

(Then again, if guitar solos are so unpopular and passe, why is Guitar Hero such an immensely popular game?)  

Anyway, discuss.  And list your favorite guitar solos.  I'm trying to come up with my own list, but I keep getting hung up on The Edge's solo in U2's "The Fly", which, to me, is one of the more beautiful and exciting solos of the last 20 years.  (Speaking of which - "Achtung Baby" came out 16 YEARS AGO.  I am old.)