Back in my 20's, I remember being baffled while reading an interview with B.B. King....in Downbeat, I think. He was asked a technical guitar question, something about scales, and what things he heard other guitarists doing.....and he replied with what, at the time, seemed to (the very young) me to be a complete non-sequitur. He said something like " Let me just say this....you have to, at some point, be happy with how you play. You don't have to be as old as me (he was then 44....which seemed hopelessly ancient to me then.....like when I helped John Lee Hooker limp out to the stage at the Four Leaf Window, and learned he was 54- you know, way younger than I am now!), but at some point, you have to be happy with how you play. Otherwise, you'll end up comparing what you're doing to what other guys are doing....while you're doing your thing...in front of YOUR audience" In other words, whatever it is that you thought you wanted to communicate to the audience must have been important....or at least you thought it was important....otherwise, why are you wasting everybody's time! And you'd probably HAVE to agree that B.B practiced what he preached....he would build his solos with a precise logic and an unmatched clarity of purpose. Likewise, when I would watch James Cotton work through the many styles and rhythms he used, it was always like he knew how the Rubik's cube was gonna turn out from his very first move.
The flip side of this is....we're not all there yet. At some point during my 5 year stint hosting a blues jam, I realized....or at least concluded, that all diva stuff, twitchy fussing with the sound, lengthy tuning adventures, fussing with effects etc...eventually turned out to be a cry for help---"HELP! I'm not sure I know what I'm trying to do"....and, I will admit confessionally that as I burned out on hosting, I lost all semblance of patience with trying to answer that cry for help.....I wanted to yell "COME ON! GROW UP"....even though I had been through all those same neuroses many times myself....and still, after all these years, get thrown by minor glitches that should be water off a duck's back. But I keep trying. And as i watch the development of young players around me, I see that confidence growing....and that gives me hope that....one day.....we'll all "like the way we play". I told Emily Duff during our recent recording session "Remember when I first met you, and complimented how you played?....That's because I knew you'd someday do what you're doing now! That was some little girl....compared to this"
A pretty good example of that is her work on our recent Advocate Sessions performance....and I do okay.... I hardly hate any of my part....keep repeating " You have to DECIDE to like the way you play"