Arlen Roth

I’m still in the process of trying to find, or even write the best song for me and Johnny Winter to record this coming Monday for my new “Slide Guitar Summit” album. It can be really a difficult process, and you can never really know the effect a song is going to have on someone, or how they’ll approach it until you actually play and record it!

The truth is I often like to find and re-make what most folks call obscure songs. These can be known as “B” sides sometimes, or are simply tunes that never really made it big, despite the fact that they contain that certain “something” that makes them appealing to some of us, and that special quality that makes them unique. I usually look for something that appeals to my guitar sensibility and that touches a certain part of my soul that I know will be brought out by the given song. There are so many wonderful categories that songs do fall into, and there are many times it can be a lot of fun to let a song “crossover” into another category. For example, you may find a song that is a rather typical and even slightly “overplayed” Pop standard that strikes a certain bluesy streak to your ear that maybe others never heard. A great song is a great song, and the interpretation that you may find possible to do can sometimes be an real extreme “stretch”, yet can be a total success too!

Of course, we’ve all heard “covers” of other songs that can be just totally abysmal, and we should learn from these obvious mistakes, but it’s always worth taking that “chance” just to see how far you can take it, while still maintaining the integrity of the original song. You must also remember that even the first recording of a song is also nothing more than that artist’s interpretation as well, and it may not be the end all as far as versions of that tune go. For example, even though Roy Orbison is one of the all-time greats, his song “Blue Bayou” was done even more justice by the incredible version that Linda Ronstadt recorded! In a reversal of that, I feel that Rita Coolidge totally took all the life out of the Jackie Wilson classic, Higher and Higher!

So my search continues, and I will be really combing through all kinds of obscure and not-so obscure tunes so that Johnny Winter and I can bring the best out of ourselves with our own interpretation of it! Wish me luck…it’s going to be a super fun project!