One day, I will be rich. One day, I’ll win a big, big lottery win and with that money, I will call M Ward and ask him for some guitar lessons. I don’t care if I’ll have to fly to Portland to see him. I don’t care if I’ll have to pay him much money for this honour. All I’d care about is spending some time with this marvellous individual, just to see how the hell he plays his goddamn guitar.
Because, frankly, there aren’t many people out there who can play like him. Sure, James Blackshaw can do the whole long-fingernails-what-the-blazes-is-going-on-there thing, him from Russian Circles makes some astonishing music with pedals and tapping and whatnot, and there’s all sorts of fretwankery from the likes of Steve Vai, but no-one, no-one I tell you, can take an acoustic and just play and sing and make something astonishing sound like the most natural thing in the world.
And what’s caused this belated mash note? Alcohol? Why, yes, but also having played this little-listened to excerpt from the Lauren Laverne show back in March on YouTube for a good few weeks now, I thought I’d finally say something about it1:
It’s had 2,474 views. I suspect around a hundred of them were me. M Ward has a gift of taking someone else’s song and making it utterly his own. I can only imagine what songwriters that he covers think. He sneaks into their house and moves the furniture, hoovers the carpets and gets some new curtains, and before you know it, he’s inviting them arond for a cup of tea and some cake. And they are glad he’s done it.
Sure, in this case, the songwriter (a certain Julio Cesar Sanders – thanks, Wikipedia!) is long gone, but the idea still remains. Not only has M Ward done one cover of this song, he’s done two – the first being the rock’n’roll version on A Wasteland Companion, the other being the solo acoustic version presented here.
Just listen to the way he strums to keep the rhythm going. Just listen to how he deftly picks out the bassline. Just listen to the elegantly played melody. And just listen to his wonderful warm, soft, intimate singing, full of smiles and love and promise and just a hint of sadness. Above all, just listen.
The guy’s a fucking genius.
1 It being dreadfully quiet round here, and all.