Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Guitar Blogging

Steve Cropper.

Cropper is among the small handful of players who really defined the role and sound of the electric guitar in pop music. You won't see a lot of footage of Cropper taking extended solos, but he can say more with one perfectly placed double stop bend as most chumps can with fifteen minutes and a bank of effects. I heard an interview once where Cropper explained how, as a kid, he got guitar lessons for half price: His friend took the lesson, ran home to show Steve what he'd learned that day, and they split the cost.

With Booker T. and the MGs, Cropper played (and wrote and engineered and produced) for one of the legendary studio bands of the pop era, performing on hundreds of Stax sessions. At a time in American history when that sort of thing could get you hurt, the band was integrated, both racially and musically. Booker T. Jones' gospel-influenced organ playing, Cropper's country-blues picking, Donald Dunn's McCartney-inspired counter-melodic chug, and Al Jackson, Jr.'s impeccable time combined to create something uniquely funky, uniquely Southern, and uniquely American.