I Like Ani Too!

Apr 23, 2009, 6:32 PM |

I was reading a blog by Catherine J titled “Ani DiFranco is my Goddess”, where she lists her favorite guitar players as Django Reinhardt, James Hendrix (Paratrooper), and Ani Difranco, and I decided to respond. Pretty soon I realized that I had written enough to post my own blog, so I decided to just post a teaser on her site, and post the full blog on my own. And here it follows…

Stevie Ray Vaughn was the southern fried Jimi. If you like Hendrix, check him out too. Stevie Ray could cover Hendrix with an equal power, and yet still make the song his own. On my list it’s Hendrix, then Stevie. It gets a bit murky after that. Based on the combination of longevity, prolificacy and influence on rock music I’d have to give third place on my list to Eric Clapton. But Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Tony Iommi are all right there in the conversation. (I’m not too familiar with Reinhardt, so I can’t say if he would make it. I’ll have to seek him out to decide.) Several others including Santana, Derek Trucks, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes, are also high on my list.

(This is where people tell me I am crazy, but I think Alex Lifeson of Rush is a vastly underrated guitar player, worthy of being considered alongside many of the other confirmed greats. If not for the social politics woven into the lyrics of Rush music, and the marked virtuosity of his band mates which sometimes overshadows him, I think an open-minded public would give Lifeson greater consideration for his contribution to philosorock. (Look at me. Coined a term, and placed an aside inside an aside.))

I noticed a couple of nods to Frank Zappa on Catherine J’s blog. But I don’t think he makes my top 10. I agree that Zappa was a genius, but I confer the title more for his overall songwriting, his imagination, the guts to stride confidently outside the lines, and of course for proving that satire and rock n' roll could go hand in hand....

Of course, I’m also confining the list to the various genres of rock music. Otherwise, there is an extremely long list of remarkable blues and jazz musicians, to whom every musician mentioned on this post, would likely defer the honor of “Greatest”, which we, perhaps too casually presume to bestow upon them…

Sticking to the point, I like Ani DiFranco quite a bit. When considering female guitar players who rock; Nancy Wilson (Heart), Joan Jett and Bonnie Raitt all deserve consideration. All three of them can bring the heat and sound just like the boys. What sets DiFranco apart is the fact that no one sounds anything like her. She has the ability to change tone and tempo on a dime. One moment she may be singing and playing soft and sweet, only to suddenly erupt with a fury of angry chords. She is also a good songwriter with a powerful and unique voice. She doesn't make my top three, but she's definitely somewhere in the running for my top twenty.