“Stone Crazy” (Buddy Guy)

Presently positioned as the object of Jimi Hendrix’s affection, it’s also become common knowledge that Leonard Chess initially constrained Guy to sideman status and fairly tame guitar tones. But the beginnings of Guy’s (amplified) overdrive can be heard here in 1962. Restrained initially, the lines/runs slowly become more direct and shrill; in the solos, the distortion emanates from the note’s floor/base and occupies the majority of registers. The narrator’s main complaint: he’s betrayed by a lover who thinks his “little heart is made of iron.” Even his daughter knows this isn’t true, so it’s willful abuse. But this leads to a complaint about labor and location: slinging guitar in the North isn’t compatible with the clothes he’s accustomed to wearing. So, he’s going “back down South.” (But that’s not gonna happen; he’s just started ripping the top off of blues amplification, and the song goes on to be released in different forms on almost 50 different albums/compilations.) Devastated, overwhelmed, and speaking from a contractual/obligatory positioning, seeking an appropriate climate is a luxury. After the plaint: a throbbing, throttling identity whose work—levied at the point of a finger—begins.


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