I suppose that I have long been associated with, and appreciated for my “interpretations” of older songs, usually in instrumental format. This has been a longtime love of mine, and many songs I have always been crazy about have managed to fall into my hands for many years. Tunes such as “When a Man Loves a Woman”, “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Whiter Shade of Pale” and several others have all gotten the treatment from me.
The question that always seems to arise is the fact of what really makes this “interpretation machine” roll, and what are really the internal musical and other factors that make me do what I do?
I say this because I always contend that very little thought goes into this process for me. It’s so much more a “feeling” thing, and is more based on how I “process” these songs than anything else. For example, on my “Landscape’ album, I did a version of “House of the Rising Sun” that is more an overall tribute to the many parts of that record, and how I have always heard it internally, in myself. What then comes out is not only an emotional onslaught of bending and expressive melodic interpretation, but also subtle little things tat for me, complete the picture.
This means that I am taking into account the great organ “fills” that graced this recording, even though I now play them on the guitar. There are many times this occurs when I interpret a piece, because I am taking into account ALL that I heard when I had a lasting impression made on me by any given song.
In tunes like “When a Man Loves a Woman”, I am actually playing the role of lead singer (instrumentally), a guitarist playing fills between the vocals, and even the rest of the band, in terms of how I deal with the chord work and sustaining ideas and themes that surround the original crators of the melody.
This is an important overall lesson for any of you interested in pursuing being an overall great instrumentalist…….you must really let, as I do, the entire record, song or whatever it might be, totally “come through you”, because this is the only way to really stay true to yourself, and your impressions of the very song you are playing. No matter what, it just can’t HELP but come out sounding like an original take on something you love that was originally created by someone else!