Tuesday, November 18, 2003


I was watching the American Music Awards last night (stuff on TV over here is sometimes time shifted a day, week or decade or two). And this country singer whose name I can't recall was singing about how much he "loves this bar."

Well, he's got has hatbrim broken in just the right places so it breaks down over his eyes. He's shuffling and boppin' with the beat. His lead guitar player is wailing, leaning back as if the sound from the on stage monitors was a category 5 hurricane. The drummer is flailing, bouncing and intently wailing the tar out of the drum set.

In short...they all look very cool on stage. Each was expressing himself as visually cool, using their instruments as objects of their expression.

And then I saw the guy on the pedal steel guitar. And I think that in the history of the world, the poor schlub who plays the pedal steel guitar is the least cool musician on stage, ever.

And that includes folks who play the triangle and the piccolo.

The pedal steel guitar...the sound of which defines country music, well...it just isn't cool...doesn't look cool anyway.

Looking something like an autoharp on an ironing board, there is just no way to "love" with the pedal steel. It's not the sort of instrument you can lean back and play...you can't very will bounce and sway either.

In fact the physical position one adopts while playing the pedal steel is visually indistinguishable from the position adopted by homeowners sewing new pillow covers on Trading Spaces.

I think Junior Brown recognized this when he invented his double necked "guitsteel" instrument - and then had to have his neckties specially made with a little pocket in them so he has a place to hold the slide when playing the 6 string. It was an improvement certainly...although I always worried he would drop that slide while switching from one instrument to the other.

Meanwhile, to the best of my knowledge...no one else has made any serious headway in figuring out how to make the pedal steel players look cool.

Perhaps someday...if Ferrari jumps in to redesign Singer products...perhaps then there will be some hope for the least cool musician on stage.

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