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52 Guitars: Week 44

Robert Fripp

I hadn't planned to include Fripp in this series, although he is a very highly regarded player. Apart from his work with King Crimson, which doesn't necessarily offer that many examples of his playing apart from the band, I really haven't heard that much of him. But having Daniel Lanois and Michael Brook in mind for the past couple of weeks, I naturally thought also of Brian Eno, who collaborated with both of them, in particular as co-producer on U2's The Unforgettable Fire. And that made me think of the Fripp and Eno collaboration Evening Star. This is the title track:


The long long tones you hear in that are produced with a tape delay system he calls Frippertronics. Here's a live demo (I must say, sometimes I love YouTube):


You may have the impression, after ten months of these posts, that I spend hours searching for the right YouTube clips to demonstrate the skills of each player. Maybe not hours, or at least not many hours, but it does take time. And an hour or so of searching for Robert Fripp solos has not turned much that demonstrates his skills distinctly from other members of various ensembles in which he's participated. So I'm falling back on this classic by The Roches, to which Fripp makes a significant contribution: "The Hammond Song." 


When I first heard this song, around the time it was released in 1979, I thought it was funny and poignant. Hearing it again now for the first time in many years, I find it almost heartbreaking: a slightly curious reaction, considering that now I've lived long enough to see many situations that seemed headed for catastrope resolved in something much less dire, sometimes even happily. The difference, is that in 1979 I was more sympathetic to the one leaving, and thought the warning voice of the parent (or is it older sibling?) a little ridiculous. Now I understand that side of it much, much better. 

 Where is "on down the line"? How far away?


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You mean The Hammond Song? I've always thought so, although most of it is from the "you're on the wrong track" speaker. I've always imagined it to be mother and daughter.

Becca learned a song when she was really little, I guess from Mother's Day Out because she never went to school.

Four little ducks went out one day,
Over the hill and far away,
Mother Duck said, "Quack, quack, quack, quack,"
But only three little ducks came back.

And, of course, it went on to the point that no little ducks came back. Thankfully, they all come back in the last verse.

It used to just tear me up because that was pretty much what was happening in my home. But now their all home--not actually AT home, thank goodness--but everybody happy together.


Oh yeah, I can imagine that little song would have been very difficult to handle at certain points.

I can;t say I'm really familiar with Fripp's work apart from him playing guitar on Brian Eno's albums. I don't even know the "Fripp & Eno" music. But I was always impressed by Fripp's work on Eno's songs. Here is a great song, with guitar playing by Fripp that always impressed me. "Frantic fluidity" is the phrase that comes to mind when I hear it now.

A great example--that would have been a good one to include in the post. I have that album but hadn't heard it for some time and didn't remember this. I was disappointed at first that it was pop songs, not ambient like Music for Airports, so it took me a bit to appreciate it.

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