l l’ete 'l‘ownshend. who understands

to the extent ol describing himself i last year. a propos of nothing. as ‘Sad. but not as sad as .lack Bruce.’ wasn't conyinced (‘lapton is still a bluesinan in that sense.

‘l le must haye left behind the spirit ol' the blues. You can't really play the blues unless you're in internal agony and turmoil and l'rustration and despair. Now . eyen ll something absolutely awl'ul happened to Iiric.l don't think he would necessarily respond in quite the same way agaiti.' l le also said that d liric was lel't with nothing but a guitar he might be sorry . but it wouldn't allect his playing.

'l‘his possibly says more about 'l’ownshend than it does about Clapton. but he‘s not the only disbelieyer. Because ola yirtually ttnassailable reputation as a guitar technician and an undisputed ell'ect on listeners to his music w hen it was. coincidentally. lashionable. liric has receiy ed an ayalanche ol criticism when his own musical explorations. particularly ol Don Williams-style slow country blues. liaye strayed ll'tHll the tightrope ol receiyed credibility and acceptable danger.

But then they‘re not listening to (‘lapton the way (’lapton listens to Clapton. In a rare TV interview he tried to explain.

"To play the blues you haye to haye had some kind ol‘ emotional trauma. Some kind ol’ emotional upset in your Me. to haye that yearning. And then. yy hen you learn how to play it. you suddenly realise there are laws inyolyingthestructureol'allol'that

kind of music. ()nce you‘ye got past that it’s simply a question ofstarting and stopping. it's just second nature. It becomes easy. and it's the most satisfying form ol music I find to play.

'When you expose those feelings. when you open tip your heart and your soul to an audience of people or on to a record. you're lel't with a void that is unbelieyable. lt‘s huge. and you‘re totally empty. and that is when you need nursing. You need something to calm the pain. because suddenly. that‘s it. you'ye wrenched eyery thing otit. lt’s iust like you'ye gutted yoursell.’

llis speech is peppered with words like quest. learning. studying and pain. He talks ol‘a ‘cheniical thing' with (‘hicago bluesman Buddy ( iuy. one ol‘ his original heroes. and Muddy Waters. whose last tour he played on. as a re-incarnation of Buddha.

'It was my chance to get back to finding out what I was really supposed to be doing. There aren't that many people left around you can actually tap into like that. He was totally tranquil and yery. yery supportiye. and he seemed to know I was struggling for an identity. He would just gently tap tne in the right direction.’

And as for all that (iod business: ‘I neyer accepted the Ian I was the greatest guitarist in the world. I always wanted to be the greatest guitarist in the world. but that‘s an ideal and I accept it as an ideal.’

Ideals. as every idealist knows. hurt. And that's the blues.



’The funniest man in Britain’ MELODY MAKER ’This man will not work on TV

unless they cut his tongue out’ THE SCOTSMAN

’Usurps Billy Connolly for l OUtragel THE INDEPENDENT

THE MITCHELL THEATRE GRANVILLE STREET JANUARY '18th/19th at8pm TICKETS: £4 (£3 concs) Tickets from The Ticket Centre, 041227 5511; Mitchell Theatre, 041 227 5033; Citizens’ Theatre 041 429 0022; Theatre Royal, 041 3311234, or from Box Office



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The list 13 Solariuary 11