Every fingerprint is unique. There’s no other fingerprint exactly like the ones at the end of the fingers typing this newsletter, there’s plenty that are close the only fingerprints like yours ARE YOURS. Now, why am I saying something you probably learned in 5th grade (Maybe? Seems like a young “isnt that neat?” moment but….it could be 11th grade, or 1st grade if you watch CSI) it’s because this applies to music too. In music you must ALSO have a “fingerprint”, musical copies of others are never EVER as good as the original because the original has a history that provided them with that sound, that fingerprint.
I was recently talking to a close friend and we were discussing some guitarists we dug and some cats we were DIDN’T (music is all subjective so there will be no names here) and I was critical of a particular and my buddy said “He has a LOT of talent, but he’s got no fingerprint man. He just rips off *****, so the idea pool is shallow.” Now, that statement REALLY hit me – “He’s got no fingerprint” – it circled around my head for 10 minutes while I finished some cardio in my daily workout and then as began lifting weights I had a bit of a private revelation…..I DO have a fingerprint! I did something right!!
I’ve written riffs for friends, other bands, bands Im in, done guest solos on others and I’ll always hear a line back “Heard that ‘charlie riff’ right away!”, or I’ve gotten “Damn, that’s a hell of a ‘charlie solo’ there!” in regards to a guest spot or just a solo in my own bands. I always, to this day (because I hate myself hahah) assume that’s a dig and it’s a shitty solo/riff and they can tell because a moment of a song gets shitty but…..that’s just on me. To all my friends or “fans” (all 13 of them) they hear my fingerprint, when people hear me they WANT to hear the “Charlie-ness” or what I do.
I just finished the new Kings and Liars record, and on there I was listening to some of the solos thinking “eh, I need to put a little show off flair in these…..some of the moments I just bend a note for 8 seconds, what’s that?!?!” Then I talked to my buddy, and I realized that bent note for 8 seconds IS ME! I grew up on the blues first and foremost and believe you can tell a story with just a few notes, why WOULDN’T I bend a note for 8 seconds??!!
My good friend helped me with one off hand comment and taught me a valuable lesson I can pass on……
The audience doesnt wanna hear you lift a lick/writing style from an artist, they wanna hear the collected history of your life experiences played back to them through a one of kind filter – you!!!