Back in the 60’s and 70’s before I ever owned a steel guitar there was a lot of music on the radio that made me want to buy a steel guitar and, hopefully, eventually learn how to play it. I was listening to WJJD in Chicago, Mike Hoyer in Des Moines, Bill Mack in Ft. Worth, WSM in Nashville – the Opry and the Sho~Bud showcase with Jack Bowles – WLW in Cincinnati and some station in New Orleans. I could get these stations at night in South Bend. I figured it would take a few years to get up to speed once I had a steel guitar, but it only took a few months. Inherent talent or just dumb luck, I dunno.
I remember driving down 16th street in the early 70‘s in Indianapolis and hearing “I’ll be There” by Johnny Bush with Dickey Overbey on steel, which was a true catalyst, and I nearly ran off the road. Then I bought Lloyd’s “Hit Sounds” at 2am in some all-night store and I knew I had to get me a steel guitar.
But I gotta tell ya, what I hear on the radio these days would not inspire me to be a steel guitar player. No fucking way. It doesn’t yank my chain, the way it did back then. If I were 20 years old again I’d wanna be a guitar player or a bass player, and play jazz or blues. No way I’d want to play what passes for Country Music now.
Paul and Sonny and Bruce and all the other hot session players are world class players, and I have a lot of respect for their talent, because I’ve heard what they can can actually do in live situations, but in the studio they can only play what the producer tells them to play, and that’s not really what I want to hear, so I listen to my ginormous music collection, which I’ve been building for 40 years, and also Internet radio, to get my steel guitar fix. Hint: go to www.live365 and find Shufflemainia.