Q&A April 2013, Part I
5/3/2013 (updated 5/3/2013)

Re: Best tracks?
Hi Richard, Greetings from Oxford. Lately I have been having some success exposing some younger friends to music they don't hear on the radio or from their peers. A long collection of blues tracks with many pages of written notes was well received (and I know they aren't just being polite, as they have actually gone out and bought quite a few CD's and tracks). As a first question, how do you feel about people giving away single tracks in the hope of seeding future purchases? Meanwhile, I am now assembling another collection of tracks by the great guitar players. Each player gets one track which is supposed to showcase their virtuosity, demonstrate their own style and sound, and above all just be a great track. Of course in many cases I have struggled to pick the tracks, but in your case I have found it impossible. I am cheating a bit by my own rules by saying you get one acoustic and one electric. The acoustic choice was hard, but I decided on "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" because it is such a signature track.  For the electric track I have floundered to a halt like Buridan's ass. Could you offer a view on what you would select as your best single electric track to wow the uninitiated and create a new generation of fans (and, of course, your best acoustic track if you don't agree with my choice)?  I think I have most of your stuff, but will gladly buy anything I don't have that you select! Cheers, Dave Wark, Oxford UK

How about 'Hard On Me' from the 'Semi-Detached Mock Tudor' CD?

'White Room' was a welcome surprise as an encore in Liverpool on 1st March, but I couldn't make out whether or not you were using a wah-wah pedal - someone else dashed on and off to adjust something while you were playing - but it occurred to me that you never have really gone in for effects like so many others of the era (Hendrix, Clapton etc). Is it a purist thing, or do you just not like the results?

There are a finite number of effect 'families' - wah, flange, chorus, delay, univibe, trem, overdrive - and a million variations on those. The only ones I don't use are flange and chorus, because they tend to sound dated and naff, and wah, for much the same reason. Having said that, they all have their place, and I wouldn't rule out using them in the future. I use a wah on White Room as a slightly tongue in cheek tribute to EC and Cream. It wouldn't sound the same without it.

And great to see you with Swarb on the BBC 'Farewell to Television Centre' - although it sort of looked as though you'd been banished to a storage room somewhere! I may be wrong but I don't think I'd ever seen the two of you playing as a duo before. Any plans to do more like this ? Jim Howard

What looked like a storage room was one of the large studios at Television Centre stripped of everything, ready to be decommissioned (sob!). No upcoming plans with Swarb, but be nice if it happens.

Could I just say that whilst the guitar work on Electric is incendiary, in my opinion the most startling impact is just how well you are singing at present. Is this just me, a moment in time, a specific cause or have you been taking secret singing lessons? Possibly the impact of working with Buddy Miller? Colin Brades - Lewes, UK

Thank you for your kind words. Sometimes it's just that the songs are easier to sing. It may have helped that Buddy imposed a rigorous vocal regimen that involved a lot of cold baths at dawn, gargling 20/50 motor oil, and self-flagellation.