Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jonny Greenwood, Master Musician

It's time for another installment in my Radiohead series. It's no secret, I'm a little obsessed with Jonny. Here's the deal- he's bloody brilliant. Not only is he a major creative force behind the music of Radiohead, he writes classical music, is the "composer-in-residence" for the BBC (anyone know what that means?) plays several instruments (besides the guitar- viola, xylophone, glockenspiel, ondes Martenot, banjo*, harmonica and drums) *I've heard that he has tried to sneak the banjo into some of Radiohead's songs and the rest of the band will have none of it. He also wrote the score for There Will Be Blood --can you imagine that movie without that haunting score? He was robbed of an Oscar nom since he used a little music he had written earlier, although I can't imagine he cares much. He also does most to all of the electronic computer generated sounds that make Radiohead Radiohead. Besides all of that, the man can play the guitar like no other. Out of a long line of brilliant lead guitarists in the past 40 years or so, none have moved me the way his playing has. I certainly won't say he is the best guitarist the world has known, what I will say is that his style of playing and what he writes is totally in sync with my soul and ears.
He has his own style of playing (one that keeps him in an arm brace from injuries and nowadays usually just preventative) and watching him play, I am not surprised. Because of his unique style, I think I ought to show you rather then just tell you. When I did Thom's post I focused on the lyrics of their songs, so I displayed the lyrics and enabled you to listen to the song too. I think showing you how Jonny plays is the appropriate way to go here.

I am going to start with probably my favorite song to hear him play.

Too bad he isn't featured more. Ah well, Thom is great in this video that was very well directed by the way. I love at the end when the whole band goes to the window to see what is going on below. The whole band except Jonny as he is most certainly still back there playing away.

You can watch this one if only just for his shirt.

Whoever owns the rights to their videos, the record company they left unamicably a few years ago perhaps- has disabled all embeding on their videos, some miracle gave me Just (I don't know how I found that), anyway you'll have to go here to see Creep.
It is long rumored that Jonny hates this song and tried to ruin it with some guitar antics. I have no idea if this is true, but if it is he failed miserably as I find his guitar work makes this song. One of my favorite images of Jonny will always be him beating his guitar while playing this song. Have a laugh at Thom's hair in this one. I think Kurt Cobain had a similar hairstyle around the same time. An interesting (yet cute) style that happened in the nineties. Jonny's is notable too. Speaking of his hair, it would break my heart if he ever cut his. But I think we're safe. I don't know if he could play without his hair in his face.

Here is a little live action of Jonny using some of his computer sound skills. You may not be able to tell what he is doing, but at the end during his solo thing he is using a complicated computer program he controls with his guitar and a series of pedals. Interesting stuff.

On a sidenote, this song is from Hail to the Thief which was written soon after Thom's first son was born. The whole album shows the impact this event had in his life. This song is a lullaby for him. Rockin lullaby. Good stuff. I suppose it's the stuff Scout falls asleep to also.
While I am at it, here is a little tidbit about the personal side of Jonny. He has been married for most of the band's life and I think is the only one that is married although, the rest have been in long term relationships with kids and stuff. He has three kids: Tamir, Omri and Zohar (sweet names, I can only guess his Israli wife has a heavy hand in the names). I want a kid named Zohar. He drinks rarely, which is also from what I hear, quite different from the rest of his bandmates. He also owns chickens. He hates cds, he favors records and uses those when ever possible.
A picture posted on their website by Jonny's brother (his older brother Colin is the bass player for Radiohead). This was taken during the current tour and was entitled "No one will play Scrabble with Jonny".
There is something about it that I love.

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