I was deeply saddened today to learn that on the 16th it was made official that guitarist John Frusciante has left the Chili Peppers. I called some good friends to let them know of this tragic fact and was met with little more than a, “Yeah, I know, that sucks.” So I feel obliged to take a minute and explain what the life and work of one musician, let alone one guitar player can mean to a person.
Maybe it’s the fact that I was born and raised in California or that I attended the same music school that Mr. Frusciante did that makes me very fond of him. Not to mention the special moments in my life that I associate with the music that he and the Peppers made and the fact that I am a hopeless guitar fanatic who loves his sound, his style, and his playing. It could be any one, all of the above, or a million more reasons that I can’t list that makes me take pause at this moment in time. But the fact remains that we are at a milestone in pop/music culture.
The music that the Peppers made together is greater than the sum of its parts. All the members of the Beatles pursued careers outside of the group to varying degrees of success but even all of their solo careers combined weren’t The Beatles. There’s a magic, a chemistry, and a mystical force that exists between those four people that has changed and blossomed and matured into something beautiful for it’s entire existence. And while I remain steadfast in the belief that an artist must follow his muse wherever it may lead him/her I also feel the need to acknowledge what has been, and become such a integral part of the lives of so many people. If only for that fact that music didn’t just change for me today, it changed for everybody.
And if I had to communicate to you what I can’t write I would say listen to Turn it Again off the album Stadium Arcadium. It’s track number twenty-seven of twenty-eight if you count both discs. It’s not a hit single, it’s not a tender ballad, and it might not be something you own if you live off what the top forty feeds you; but it’s a damn good piece of rock n’ roll. And I feel it’s a good track to represent John, because it’s all there. The light and funky guitar in the verses, the raging distorted riffs in the choruses, the almost psychadelic and improvised layers of guitar in the outro, and something else you might not think is important at first. There is absolutely no guitar in the breakdown/bridge. It’s a beautiful thing when a musician let alone a guitarist knows when to just stop playing. It adds impact to their return to the fold and gives the song and the other musicians a chance to stretch out and flex their musical muscle. Take a listen and you’ll see what I mean.
I just want to say thanks and pleasant travels to John, your noise has meant a lot to me so keep it coming!
P.S. Once a piece of art leaves the artist it doesn’t belong to them anymore. It belongs to everyone who it has an effect on however big or small it may be.