20 February 2011

The Friday Top Five and Continued Craziness

The past couple of weeks have been a complete blur, and it is going to continue along this path until the end of April. I am premiering a new work on April 1 to mark the 175th anniversary of a local university. Yes, I am aware that it is on April Fools Day, and if I don't start cranking out some music very quickly in the month of March, the joke will definitely be on them!

I have been trying to desperately to meet all my workouts during the week, but I have missed a couple this week. When it comes down to keeping my job or training, my job seems to wins out for some strange reason. Something about ensuring I can provide for my family seems to be more of a priority. I have been really burning it at both ends—of course, it seems like all my friends are right along there with me. If it were not for wifey, I don't know how we would ever survive. She has been maintaing status quo for the better part of the year as I have been commuting an hour to work each way every day. Ugh.

The good news? I am eating everything in sight just to keep on weight. Ice cream, cake, fudge. Ah, training does have its advantages.

The Friday Top Five: After much consideration, and after speaking with many of my colleagues who are guitar instructors at colleges and universities around the country, I have compiled the definitive list of the top five greatest rock guitarists of all time.

The criteria for this list are: originality, facility, and innovation. These guitarists not only played amazingly, but they completely changed the way in which players approach the instrument. Without further adieu, they are:

#5 Chuck Berry—Berry was unquestionably the first giant of rock and roll guitar. There would be no rock and roll guitar if it were not for Chuck Berry. Some rock and roll scholars say that he and Little Richard single-handedly invented the genre (even though the term rock and roll was coined by New York DJ Alan Freed who use to play black R&B after hours on the radio). Sure, Elvis might have been anointed the "King of Rock and Roll," but if it were not for Chuck, Elvis might not ever have happened. The cool thing about Chuck is that his guitar was always out of tune and he played with a sincerity. He also wrote some of the best anthems to the playing of rock and roll in Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, and Rock and Roll Music. 

#4 Eddie Van Halen—Although he did not invent finger tapping, he certainly helped popularize the technique which culminated in the recording of Eruption. Equally important was Van Halen's use of tuning and volume swells. More, the dude has played with everyone from Dweezil Zappa to Thomas Dolby, oh, not to mention playing the solo on a little tune by Michael Jackson titled Beat It. He was quite possibly the guitar hero for every single young aspiring guitarist from my generation. 1984 came out when I was in seventh grade and I remember thinking, who is this dude playing guitar?

#3 Jeff Beck—This former Yardbirds frontman went on to influence thousands of guitarists with his blending of Indian music with jazz and rock. He lists Ravi Shankar as one of his greatest influences. You probably don't know Beck's solo work unless you are a true rock guitarist aficionado, but you ought to go and discover it if you don't know it yet.

#2 Jimmy Hendrix—Definitely did not have the greatest facility as some of other rock guitarists, but his use of timbre and texture by means of distortion were revolutionary, not to mention, he was one incredible songwriter. I still get goosebumps every time I hear Hey Joe. His performances to me are spiritual. His impromptu performance on the Dick Cavett show was legendary. Besides, who else played so well with his teeth and could burn his guitar and then smash the hell out of it and look cool doing it? Unfortunately, he had to join the 27 club along with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, much to the disillusionment of a hippie generation searching for some utopian drug induced Nirvana. Speaking of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was the most recent addition to the 27 club.

#1 Steve Vai—In 1979, Steve Vai mailed Frank Zappa a transcription (taking a melody or rhythm that has been improvised, and writing it out with musical notation) of his tune The Black Page. There are not too many other guitarists in history that have the theoretical chops to be able to do that. Zappa was so impressed that he hired Vai in 1979 to transcribe a bunch of his guitar solos.

Okay, I know what you're thinking—there are some noticeable exceptions here. Where is Jimmy Page? Yeah, well, here's the deal with Jimmy: I think the band Led Zeppelin was incredibly innovative, and Page was an amazing song writer (quite possibly the best guitarist-songwriter in rock and roll history), but he essentially played tasty rhythm and blues licks with a whole lot of distortion. So did Hendrix, but Hendrix use of distortion and sound producing techniques (like playing Little Wing through a Leslie speaker normally used for a Hammond organ), inspired scours of heavy metal bands to experiment with sound in an outside of the studio during the late 1970's and early 1980's. So, my list of honorable mentions include: JimmyPage, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Ramone, Mark Knopfler, George Harrison and Kirk Hammett.

Training: Like I said at the beginning of my post, I have gotten most  of my workouts in this week. Sorry Coach Mary, but I only managed to get in one swim this week—yikes!  I had one of the worst runs of my training on Thursday.

Have you ever gone out for an easy training run and it just felt like you couldn't find your rhythm? Well, it was not exactly a easy zone two run—I did some zone 3 work at 5x5:00 intervals with 2:00 rest in between. I never quite got into a groove. I had an awesome 1.5 hour bike ride yesterday, followed by a kick-ass 1.5 hour zone 2 run today. I am actually running faster in zone 2. I never thought it would happen! I guess Coach Mary does indeed know what she's talking about. Go figure! The good news was I came home that day to a package from SBR—one of the Trakkers team sponsors this season. Yeah, let me just talk to you a second about this stuff. Do you dislike smelling like chlorine? This is the real deal. I am not embarrassed to admit that I broke out with a tube of the TRISWIM Lotion at the campus gym the other day after my swim and then subsequently offered it to the guys in the locker room. The TRISLIDE is the true bomb-diggity, no lie. I only recently discovered it when a couple of my soon-to-be teammates were accosting us letting us try it out at Rev3 Cedar Point last season. Yeah, there is NOTHING like this. I have used some other stuff to get my wetsuit on and off and to prevent chafing, but I actually refer to this as my "Magic in a Can". I actually had been using Foggle for the past year and can tell you that the rubber on your goggles will snap before you have to buy a new pair because of fogging. Anyway, thanks SBR!

I have to say a big thank you to First Endurance nutrition for coming on board and being part of the Trakkers team. Of course, as you can see, I did not need to be sold on First Endurance. I have been using it since last season when Kelly C. turned me onto it. I have to say, I have been very pleased with the results. I can not do a swim workout without my EFS Grape drink. It's just how I roll. First Endurance will also be the official drink of my Ragnerite team this May as me and eleven other insane people attempt to run a relay race from Woodstock to Manhattan (approximately 184.1 miles), but who's counting?

Yeah, life can be good, right? Here are Julian and Stella saluting with some wine-water. What? We're Italian, we start early in our house.

Train Smart!


Jeff - DangleTheCarrot said...

Great list dude!

I might take out Berry and replace him with Eric Clapton, dude had been pumping it out for decades now! Also, I think Duane Allman should be on the list, especially if it was The Friday Top Six! Oh and Jeff Beck is completely underrated - glad you included him too!

Totally agree with you about Page and give you mad props for putting Steve Vai #1 - he kills it!

Kristin Deaton said...

hmmmm wish I had that problem eat so I don't loose too much weight. I have no problem keeping it on. It needs to come off (just a little). I would have to agree with you in the whole training vs job thing. Job wins for me every time

Molly said...

I just watched Cupcake Wars, and now I see you're eating cake? Someone's trying to tell me something.

Love EVH. He's so hardcore he needed a hip replacement.

Your kiddos are cuties.

Kiersten said...

You inspired me to bake a Devil's Food cake tonight! ;) Balance is always challenging, but an awesome spouse definitely makes it better.


What??? No Joe Satriani? Come on, "Surfing with the Alien" is a classic...

Caratunk Girl said...

Love the list. I like your nutrition plan. ha ha

Crap. Now I want cake.

Marlena said...

Good thing Stella has that booster seat so she can reach her wine...

Big Daddy Diesel said...

I need to try EFS before the season begins to see if my stomach can handle it

Mark said...

Marlena, I think that is WHY she still uses a booster seat.

Mandy, you NEVER need an excuse to eat cake!

Anonymous said...

Wow Mark, you got a lot there eh? I hope you delivered on your music commitment yesterday. Nice post. Thanks for the Stevie Ray mention... one of my favorites.