merlin:

Be Bop Deluxe – “Maid In Heaven” (Live; Old Grey Whistle Test; 1975)

[This is the resuscitated and link-repaired re-re-repost of something from (yikes) five years ago.]

Okay. So, I still haven’t stopped listening to this goddamned song (via the original Futurama version) as well as watching this video. Again, repeatedly.

And, it was only last night that I noticed something weird. And, now I can’t stop thinking about it. Let alone un-notice it. And it makes me like this performance even better.

USE CAUTION: GUITAR NERDERY, NEXT 15 PARAGRAPHS. EXPECT DELAYS.

If you’re vaguely interested (which you almost certainly aren’t), watch the video again, at least from the beginning through the first verse.

Got it? Okay, then.

Didja notice 4 things?

  1. Bill’s aggressive use of whammy bar during the intro;
  2. Bill’s subsequent tuning problem with (what sounds like) his “G”;[1]
  3. Bill’s low-key ability to minimize the clams generated by such a tuning problem;
  4. While still shredding like a goddamned tweaked-out weedwhacker.

On TV. With the near-nudity of a small band. While singing. In a white blazer and red pants.

Okay, got your interest? Go back and listen again with headphones, because it’s actually really fucking out of tune. A little rancid. Maybe a quarter-step or more? Wow.

So, first, off, I have no idea what the man was thinking by dive-bombing with a (“boingy-boingy-boing-TANG!-PROOOHNNNG!”) Bigsby vibrato on an ES–345; mind you, this is during the opening bars of a song being performed for national TV.

Boys: that Bigsby ain’t no Floyd Rose-havin’ Edward Van Halen-type situation–no, sir, that there is an early 60s guitar. And the vibrato is about as forgiving as a fat kid with an expired taco coupon.

Anyway. Wow. Out of tune.

But. Through some insane, in-the-moment combination of adjustments[2], these acrobatics escaped me until I’d watched it at least 20 times.

Yes, stipulated: I’m the king of sharp singing as well as the pitiful, Quasimodo-like victim of 5 years in the blast zone of a ferocious Orange amp. So, maybe I’m not a good bar for whether it’s empirically noticeable.

Still. You gotta hand it to the man. Because, that’s some ninja shit to pull off under pressure.

Also, not to talk about work, but, this? This business here? This is expertise.

This is about knowing your shit so deeply, and so inside and out, that you can not only route around a potential catastrophe, but you can do it while looking like you’re getting a surprisingly B-plus handie from your pal’s stepmother. And, in a white blazer and red pants, no less.

Awesome.


  1. And, isn’t it always the “B” or the “G?” Skinny little cocksuckers.  ↩

  2. Guessing…alternate fingerings for the parts and chords, wide finger vibrato, extensive palm muting, and quickie volume adjustments?  ↩


September 30, 2015