Filed Under:

Buddy Guy: 'Rhythm And Blues' Titan Channels Guitar Wisdom

Play associated audio

On his new album, Rhythm & Blues, guitarist and vocalist Buddy Guy sums up his approach when he sings, "People always ask me / About the blues I play / I say it just comes through me / I don't know no other way / I go by feel." A few songs later, in "Whiskey Ghost," he trembles as he describes the nightly test of will with a common blues-culture demon. Then, working alongside Steven Tyler of Aerosmith in "Evil Twin," he rolls through Blues 101 tales of woe about getting tangled up with the wrong kind of woman.

There are 21 songs on this two-disc set of new recordings, and by the time it's over, Guy and his guests have visited just about every worn-out blues cliché. That would be tedious listening if he were a troubadour. But in his music, the lyrics are really just there to set the scene. The jolts start after the verses, when Guy begins to play. His guitar — a custom Buddy Guy 1989 Fender Stratocaster — is more than hot-wired. It sounds like it'll give you a blistering burn if you get too close.

Every time Buddy Guy steps out, even if he's just doing a quick ad-lib between lines, he delivers something profound. That guitar wisdom, dispensed so casually, is the element no producer or record executive can order up. Guy is among the last living links to Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and other towering figures of the blues. And if you can't hear that in the slickness of the arrangements or the glitter from the celebrity guests, just be patient. The next guitar solo will come along in a minute or two, and then all that history will be inescapable.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


Not My Job: We Ask The Choreographer Of 'The Lion King' About Lying Kings

We recorded the show in Rochester, N.Y., this week, which is home to the Garth Fagan Dance company. We'll ask acclaimed choreographer Garth Fagan three questions about really deceitful people.

Migrants Work To Hold Onto Latin Food History In Gentrifying D.C. Neighborhood

A restaurant in Washington D.C. that has long been a haven for Central American immigrants is adapting to gentrification in the neighborhood.

Bitter And Contested Elections In America's History

Presidential historian at Vanderbilt University Thomas Schwartz discusses the history of peaceful transfers of political power in American presidential elections, going back more than 200 years.

AT&T To Buy Time Warner For $85 Billion

It emerged Saturday that AT&T is set to buy Time Warner for about $85 billion. If approved by federal regulators, the merger would create a mammoth media and telecommunications company.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.