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Yet Another “Favorite Guitar Solo” Post

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This being Wednesday, it’s a Musical Chairs day (we took a break last week). Today’s topic is a tried and true one, but one music fans never tire of talking about: Favorite guitar solo. [Favorite, not BEST, big distinction!]

You’re waiting for something Eddie Van Halen, aren’t you? Given my near religious devotion to the guy and his guitar work, you wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that. But no, there is no Eruption here. Instead, I choose what some may call a cliche pick:

david3.jpgDavid Gilmour – Comfortably Numb

There’s something that Gilmour can do with his guitar that so many of the others can’t – speak to me. The solo in “Comfortably Numb” isn’t just notes being played, it isn’t just fingers moving up and down the board. It’s Gilmour’s version of poetry, of resonance and of emotion. It’s singing without the words. What some artists can do with their voices, Gilmour can do with his guitar and that is never more evident than on the last minutes of “Comfortably Numb”, when Gilmour wraps up all the angst and sandess, the loneliness and emptiness of the song and emotes with his guitar. Each note is like a little pinprick in your heart. When I listen to CN and the solo begins, I almost sing along, as if each note was a lyric and not just music. That’s what makes it my favorite.

Others considered here: Hendrix on Little Wing, for its emotion.. John Petrucci on Lines in the Sand, for the technical aspect. I’m not a huge Dream Theater fan but man, that guy can play. Clapton on Layla; poetry in motion. Dimebag on Floods, because Dimebag does not get enough recognition for what he could do with a guitar. Dave Navarro on Three Days, because it puts me in a place. Page on Heartbreaker because it was the first solo that ever kicked my ass. And, yes Collins/Rossington on Freebird. While that might not be a technical masterpiece, it certainly makes me want to stop whatever I’m doing and play air guitar. Can’t ask for much more than that.

But my winner is, for all the reasons mentioned above (and please, please keep in mind this is FAVORITE and not BEST) “Comfortably Numb”.

[If you’d like to come vote for best guitar solo in my blog’s Hall of Fame, come on over and make a nomination!]
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About Michele Catalano

  • Comfortably Numb is one of the classics. It’s haunting and surreal, while remaining completely familiar. Good pick!

  • My fave is Robert Fripp’s incendiary solo on Brian Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire” from Here Come the Warm Jets.

  • Guppusmaximus

    David Gilmour is brilliant on Comfortably Numb..Very Surreal and..well..Comforting.

    My favorite would have to be Adrian Smith on “Stranger in a Strange Land”(Iron Maiden) as it captures the “calm before the storm” vibe giving you that feeling of discovery and then bringing you to a familiar place… It gives me chills. It’s great when bands can create an audio atmosphere or stimulate a mental vision with the music to compliment and embrace the lyrics.

  • Tim

    I’d just filed away how beautiful that solo was until they played it at Live 8. I turned to a friend and said, “Isn’t it unbelievable how lyrical this solo is?” You’ve nailed it on the head when you write about it speaking to you.

  • Archduke Josef

    Tom Scholtz’s guitar solo on “Hitchin’ A Ride” from Boston’s classic first album is extraordiarily amazing.

    Jimmy Page’s “Stairway To Heaven” solo is one of rock’s all time greatest, no matter how played out the song is.

    David Gilmour’s guitar solo on the classic Floyd song “Time” is super amazing too.

  • No argument from me

  • A couple of my favorites of all time:
    – Lindsey Buckingam’s solo in Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
    – Springsteen’s solo in “Tunnel of Love”

  • Bennett

    1) Michael Schenker’s solo from “Rock Bottom”, UFO’s live album “Strangers In The Night”.

    2&3) Randy Rhodes’ solos on “Crazy Train” and “Flying High Again”

  • Baronius

    Michele, you’re wrong. That isn’t your favorite solo. (It’s ok if you don’t get the joke, but trust me, I’m joking.)

    I’ve heard people rave about Comfortably Numb’s solo, but I’m not sure which one they mean. There is the beautiful one in the middle, and the angry one at the end. They’re both in my top ten. Some days, they’re in my top two. Which one are you referring to?

    The first one is open, soothing. I don’t think of Gilmour as a slow guitarist, but I’ve read that he thinks he’s slow, and tries to compensate for it with fullness. (Interestingly, Slowhand describes himself the same way. I should be such a lousy guitarist as Gilmour and Clapton!) CN hasn’t turned angry yet. The water imagery dominates in the arpeggios and the lyrics.

    Then the song – the whole album really – changes in the next verse. “There’ll be no more ((aaaahh)), but you may feel a little sick.” The drums become menacing then the lead starts with that harmonic squeal. It rolls along, starts to fade, and you think the next 15 seconds will be a fade-out, then comes the guitar scream. The remainder of the lead is more than anger, it’s rage.

  • Duane

    The solo on Comfortably Numb is excellent.

    But …

    Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy — Warriors
    Adrian Belew of King Crimson — Elephant Talk
    Robin Trower — Too Rolling Stoned
    Alex Lifeson of Rush — Between the Wheels
    Eric Johnson — Desert Rose
    Steve Vai — most anything
    Eddie van Halen — Drop Dead Legs
    Alan Holdsworth of the Bruford band — The Sahara of Snow — Part Two

    Honorable mention to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
    And so many others ….

    The solo on Freebird is kid stuff.

  • crooked spine

    The Allman Brothers Band’s “Blue Sky” – Duane Allman & Dickey Betts play beautifully.

    “Jeff’s Boogie” by the Yardbirds – Jeff Beck turns his guitar inside out on this.

    John Mayall’s version of “The Stumble” – Freddie King’s original version was good, but Peter Green makes the song all his own.

  • I love Buck Dharma’s solo on BÖC’s “Revenge of Vera Gemini”. Really short, only 8 bars I think, but fits the song perfectly. His first solo on “The Vigil” (from the much-maligned “Mirrors”) is equally wonderful.

  • Matt

    I cannot figure out how any of these solos named above come close to the technical genius that Randy Rhodes lays down in all of the music he plays. Not only could he make his guitar sing with slow melodies, but he played faster and more difficult pieces than anyone in the game.

  • MeosDeos

    I agree with whomever picks David Gilmore as one of the greatest soloists especially for the two solos on Comfortably Numb, Randy Rhoads has alway been my favorite. All of the solos on Diary of a Madman are so melodic and emotional. Please listen to the end solo for “Tonight”. breathtaking.

  • Rainbow

    A solo from adrian smith could be cool.
    Solos like Powerslave,Stranger in a Strange Land,Wasted yers,Omega and …are all great.

    Gary Moore is god too!

  • geetar gay

    Great solos include:

    november rain- gnr
    i remember you- skidrow
    living without you- shotgun messiah