One of the most common things I hear from many British bands in interviews is how surprised they often are when they’re told of their success in America. I mean, as a writer, I get it; once your art is out there, you only see the response of those who actually connect with you, but you have no idea of the bigger picture. Quite often, the musicians will respond with a bit of embarrassed surprise that they had no idea how inspiring or influential they are or were. They’ve only seen it from their point of view as a working, touring musician. They see the audience and maybe the sales numbers, but that’s about it.
I’m going to be seeing a conversation with Johnny Marr (guitarist extraordinaire of the Smiths and solo, natch) at the Jewish Community Center here in town tonight, and of course I’m trying to think of a good question to ask if there’s a Q & A at the end of the talk. My first thought, of course, was ‘How does it feel to have written one of the most recognized, beloved, and imitated riffs of the 80s?’ but that seems a bit silly. On the other side of the spectrum I could go full-on Matt Pinfield and ask about The Smiths being an insanely influential band on US college radio in the 80s. Or I could just ask him how he tunes his guitars because I can’t figure out how the hell he plays half his licks.
I paid a little extra for my ticket so I get his new autobiography, Set the Boy Free, as well. And perhaps I may get it signed if he’s going to be doing so.
Last time I did this was a few years back when I saw Peter Hook (bassist of Joy Division and New Order) at the same place. I ended up not asking any dorky questions, but I did get to tell him his playing style was deeply influential in my own over the years. [He followed that up with a big smile and asked if I was currently in a band! Come to find out he’s just as big a music geek as I am and loves meeting other musicians of all levels.]
Looking forward to tonight!