Lightning in a Bottle
Every once in a great while riff and tone and rhythm and the stars align and something happens that is more magic than perfect. And then there’s Magic Sam. According to his record producer Willie Dixon, while most other guys were playing the same straight 12-bar blues, the way Magic Sam carried the harmonies with the chords “was a different thing altogether.”
It always feels like a religious experience when one can witness a player with such prowess have total command of his instrument. And Magic Sam, born Samuel Gene Maghett in Grenada County, Mississippi, was without a doubt one such virtuoso. In this instance we get to experience a true master at work.
What makes this all the more magical is that the Chicago blues legend delivers indelible notes on a guitar that isn’t even his to begin with! Whether he busted into Earl Hooker’s set as legend has it, or more likely, his guitar was damaged backstage so he borrowed Hooker’s guitar….he took that thing and made it his own like he often did on stage.
Magic Sam’s life was tragically cut short by a heart attack when he was just 32 years old. And we are often left to wonder what could have been, but at least we have these performances and the legacy he left behind.
Many have tried to figure out and imitate Sam’s Boogie on this electrifying rendition of “Lookin’ Good,” including King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Gary Clark Jr., but all have graciously admitted defeat. When asked on Marc Maron’s podcast about his attempt to recreate the riff for his song “Don’t Owe You A Thang,” Gary Clark Jr. responded, “I do one that’s close, but only because I couldn’t figure it out. So I had to settle for what I could do.”
P.S. Before you go crazy trying to figure out if that’s a young Buddy Guy on the drums making sure his wallet doesn’t go wandering off, let me stop you. It’s actually Robert St. Julien!
Sol Canal for Keeping the Blues Alive
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