Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flyin' Home

"Guitar playing, a person named Charlie Chirstian, guitarist for Benny Goodman, T-Bone Walker, and Carl Hogan-- I think those three would be on guitar." Interview in Rolling Stone, June 14, 1969.

Chuck Berry was at U.C. Berkeley when he gave that interview-- or answered questions at the student union there. He's nothing if not consistent. In his autobiography he describes his first days learning to play the guitar.

"I picked up a lot of new swing riffs and ideas from Ira's playing, which was similar to the style of Charlie Christian's."

In 1967 Berry recorded the Goodman/Christian song "Flying Home" for Mercury records, then recorded his own reworking of the song for Chess on "Back Home." The Mercury version is jazzy; the Chess version, more of a rock song, is full of optimisim and energy-- my favorite Chuck Berry instrumental.

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