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The wine was flowing at the birthday party, and our covers band was taking a break between sets. We were chatting to a fifty-something guest who’d renewed an old love affair with guitars and was embracing the sound technology that hadn’t been there the first time round. He waxed lyrical about a Line 6 gizmo, which could be preset to recreate all the classic amps. I found myself agreeing that it must be wonderful to just press a key and sound like a Marshall stack. Probably minus some tedious pre-digital restraints of price, size, and temperamental valves. But something was bugging me. I felt strangely disloyal for smiling and nodding – as if I should be defending some ancient rock code of conduct.
Would Hendrix have used a Line 6? Or is he turning in his grave?
Later on the way back to Berlin, with our (non-Marshall stack) equipment packed behind my seat I thought it over. If the Line 6 really DID sound identical to a Marshall, who was I to say “It’s not the same….” or “Back in the day…” or any other neo-Luddite remark…..? This is as near as I got to an answer…
Take gold. People steal, they fight, or they give all they possess to acquire it. Rightly or wrongly it’s special. Now, if some 14th century alchemist had figured out how to create gold from horse manure, then it’d still be 100% gold. But no longer special. So it is with my perception of Marshalls. If a bunch of geeks put it to the test and had me listening to a Marshall and a Line 6, maybe I’d be unable to tell the difference. BUT none of these hypothetical geeks would have directly experienced the sheer physical presence and power of Jim Marshall’s sound engineering masterpiece. None of them would have realised that it was truly in another league at that time. None of them would have put their hard-earned savings across the counter to buy the damn thing. The value of it is no longer in the sound but somewhere in my psyche. I’m SO glad I lived with the magnificent Marshall beast before it got reduced to a disposable software option. Even if I did have to lug it up the stairs at 4 a.m.
Fast Cars and Jack Daniels – the story behind the song….
Sounds clichéd , butthe inspiration really did come to me in a dream.
A girl was playing a video game in a dark sleazy bar. With typical dream logic, the other drinkers were simultaneously the characters in the game. They were NOT nice people. She knew she’d lose. She was destined to play victim. The game was pre-programmed. She was mourning her future before she’d even got there.
“And I will pay, pay, pay for the punishment that is to come”
Woke up with a feeling of desolation and the song followed within a few days. The dream’s message ? Throughout a one-track pursuit of all things exciting, shiny and dangerous, deep down I knew it would all go pearshaped and that none of the fun came without a price tag…..
“Don’t know where, and I don’t know when…but I know just how this story’s gonna end….
I was 18 years old, preparing to go to a party. And learning how to cook. Before leaving, I ate some home-made soup. The main ingredient? Parsnips. Bad move. From nine till late o’clock I was drinking God knows what. Chased down with a generous measure of Scotch. Not rocket science to figure out what happened to my stomach. Since that night I’ve treated parsnips with caution, and the taste of even the finest, Glenwhatever 12 Year single malt carries a faint warning note. But Jack Daniels was never a problem. For my digestion anyway.
Over the years playing in bands I’ve come across a few folk who’ve sipped, snorted or gulped a wee bit too much from the rock goblet. Not a problem till their business became my business and I couldn’t extricate myself ….this song was written in not such fond memory of those times.
“…You’re a party animal and you always will be – You don’t look for trouble but it always finds you” Do you know this person?
“…It’s a different story – it’s the same old song” Someone told you a few stories. In which the details are different but the result is the same. The narrator is having a ball. The listener gets shafted.
“…..You’re a party animal. You’re a party vegetable.” Party boy just made the transition to horizontal.
“…And there are no secrets around this scene. Cause wherever you go – someone’s been.” He’s yours, he’s mine, he’s someone else’s too
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