By Julia Crowe
ECW Preaa, $1995. 355 pages
In this colorful book, journalist and guitarist Julia Crowe interviews 70 musicians and instrument makers, interweaving their stories with her own lifelong love affair with the guitar. Her subjects play a variety of styles, especially classical and rock music. If the book has any weaknesses, they lie in the somewhat sketchy coverage of jazz, folk, blues, R&B, and country.
The more thoughtful musicians leave you wanting to know more about their learning process, and how it evolved, but no interview lasts more than three or four pages. A number of the musicians seem to tell the same basic stories, and a reoccurring theme of the book is the artist’s first instrument. Except for the classical players, a large percentage of the musicians interviewed do not read music, and in fact were frustrated by early uninteresting lessons. ||Some of the best writing is about Crowe’s own upbringing and attitudes. Here her prose takes wings, and soars above the limitations of some of her subjects. Guitar players will particularly enjoy this book, and will gain true insight from players such as Lee Renaldo, Roland Dyens, Pat Martino and Joe Satriani.
Reviewed by Dick Weissman