April/May Q&A - Part Four
7/1/2007 (updated 7/1/2007)

My good mate Steve has a 1960 Les Paul (bully for him) which I experienced for myself recently. It was quite amazing and I understood why he had always said that ‘it plays itself’. Don't know if I am able to explain this very well but when you plug in it seems to come alive and wherever you lay your fingers on it, you get a sound through the amp and it's a pretty wild phenomenon. Steve says that the more recent models are not the same. What is your opinion regarding the old Les Pauls, say 1960s and before versus the snazzy Ferringtons and Danos that you play these days, apart from obvious technical factors? I know you haven’t played a Gibson for decades but do you have something against them or could you ever go back, even occasionally to unleash one? Is there a Gibson in your garage or under the bed? all the best, - Pete, Sydney.

The flame maple top Les Paul was quite the thing with the UK blues fraternity, but I could never afford one at the time. I loved my gold top with the soap bars though…I suppose I preferred the sound of Fenders ultimately, and have steered that way ever since. I’m not averse to Gibsons, I just don’t own one at the moment. I’d love to get a gold top 295, the Scotty Moore model – Phil Manzanera has one that sounds so good.

I heard the sad news recently that the wonderful Shetland guitarist Peerie Willie Johnston had passed away. Did you ever come into contact with Peerie Willie, and what is your assessment of his playing? - Peter Brown

Great player, so sad to hear he’s passed on. I never met him, but he had quite a reputation, and I enjoyed hearing him on recordings. I think his jazzy way of accompanying traditional music was unique and pioneering.

Have you ever considered working with Robert Fripp, my other all- yime favorite guitarist? How about John Cale, who has done a number of solo piano, classical and folk-tinged work? - Adrian Loder

I think that John Cale would be interesting. Our musical collaborations have been few and far between, but he is such a unique musician.

Who is your favourite ever cricketer? and have you ever written a song about the beautiful game of cricket? - Captain Containment, Stockport

Before my time, but I’d go for Jack Hobbs, the master of the ‘sticky’ wicket. Of cricketers I’ve seen in the flesh, I was probably most impressed by Peter May, with his style of ruthless elegance. A young Shane Warne, when he was bowling all the variations, was an absolute joy. I’ve never written a song about the game – still to come.

I remember listening to a live recording of the RT band, probably back in the 80’s when Clive and Chris were playing with you. Clive (A Manc like me!), sang one of the songs and I cannot remember all the lyrics, I wonder if you might be able to let me know what they were, it went something like this:

My poor heart aches, it pays the price for my mistakes
I tie you down in barbed wire and beat it senseless
It takes the blows; it crumbles like a broken noseO who would own a heart so defenseless?
Du m de dum de dum….. I’m gonna have to face it like a man. - Paul

It’s a Clive Gregson song, and I’m pretty sure it’s called ‘Take It Like A Man”. I expect you can find it on Clive’s website.