i'm shufflin' thru the texas sand,
but my head's in mississippi
download zztop-my head's in mississippi.mp3 by zz top 08-12-01

not sure what album its on, but its a shuffle beat, in the classic mold of john lee hooker, which is a zz top specialty. you might not know this, but zz top had to go to court and pay up some serious money for lifting their classic trademark song, zztop-la grange.mp3 from john lee hooker, but this is no stunning revelation. for my money, NOBODY does john lee hooker quite like zz top.

all the same, there's something about the way
billy gibbons grips that guitar chord, i don't know exactly what it is, perhaps a combination of sustained tone with a rhythmic grip and RELEASE <--- the way he lets go of the strings, it has this characteristic rhythmic
POP to it, you can almost taste the tips of his fingers as the chord goes off, and then back on, but its on the other side of the beat from where it started. then it repeats the same way, and the wonderful shuffle feel of this tune just REEKS of zz top.

also billy has this patented vibrato, the way he will wiggle a note. the rate of the wiggle is actually slower than a lot of guitarists, like say angus young, or robin trower. they both have extreme vibrato, pushing and pulling the string very far, and very fast. jimi hendrix had probably the best vibrato like that, wiggling real far, and real fast. when you hear it, it gives you that blues intensity that lets you know this is the real shit. stevie ray vaughn was all about that electrified hummingbird quiver.

of course, the rev. billy g does that thing, really well, but he also has a slower, lazier vibrato he uses constantly, its even whimsical sometimes, and it sounds so zz top when he'll remain in his vibrato longer than most players, as opposed to rushing into a blindingly ferocious solo, he'll be stingey and linger in the vibrato zone, kind of teasing the string as he's stretching it. very often his whole approach to soloing is less about moving to other positions on the neck, and more staying where he's at, uncovering surprise directions of pitch in between the transitions from vibrato to outright stretching. i really enjoy the way he declines the normal guitarist habit of changing positions continually.

this laid back altitude is also present in the lyrics he sings
zztop-my head's in mississippi.mp3 is especially funny:
i keep thinking about that night in memphis,
lord, i thought i was in heaven

but it turns out the whole time he was

stumblin' thru the parking lot of an invisible 7-11

also there is another great line about a

naked cowgirl, floating across the ceiling

its classic moving sidewalks psychedelicism, and this whole tripped out sense of texas-style humor is the landscape behind the patented guitar solo style. its totally relaxed, but truly  ingenious, and always in pursuit of pure blues enjoyment.

to me, this is what zz top is all about, and the thing i love the most is that physical feeling of the zz top rhythm and tone. you recognize it instantly when you hear it. no one else sounds quite like that. that's probably because everybody else is moving too fast, in a big hurry, under lots of rock and roll pressure to prove something that's really not necessary.

of course, this is just my not-so-humble opinion. i've been grooving to mr. gibbons for going on 40 years now. i first saw him when i was 16 years old, the moving sidewalks opened for the doors in dallas, 1968. but i've seen this guy many times since then. what's funny is i've only seen him once with the present line-up, but it was before they were called zz top. i remember quite clearly how they used to play zztop-shiek.mp3 from tres hombres, and i wanna hold your hand by the beatles, done as a slow 6/8 blues. i know if billy gibbons ever reads this it will blow his fucking mind!

whatever there was to prove to the world of guitar playing, he's already proved it, many times over. that's why i love it, he doesn't waste my time with a bunch of diddley-diddley wee-wee bullshit. zz top music has endured very well, and it seems completely impervious to the juvenile anxiety that permeates nearly every aspect of the entertainment industry.

oh, what a relief it is, to avoid the crap in the music biz!!

no, this music is BETTER, much better, and why is it so much better? the answer is very simple, this is the BLUES. check out the lyric of this song, his head is in mississippi, right? he mentions howlin' wolf and voodoo healing.

do you know who howlin' wolf was? yeah, you've heard the name, but you need to get off your ass and see what its all about! LISTEN to howlin' wolf and other blues names being dropped, like lightnin' hopkins zztop-poke chop sandwich.mp3
and muddy waters
zztop-jesus just left chicago.mp3. get hip to the fact that billy gibbons is inviting you into the world that his soul occupies, this is exactly where his head is coming from, musically speaking.

can you dig it? here are some classic examples of what
zz top is all about... the epitome of american BLUES rock.

zztop-my head's in mississippi.mp3 ::: zztop-la grange.mp3
zztop-shiek.mp3 ::: zztop-poke chop sandwich.mp3
zztop-francene (en espanol).mp3 ::: zztop jesus just left chicago.mp3



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