At the outset, I would like to unequivocally state that this post has nothing to do with tongues. It does have everything to do with musical licks, which are snippets of songs that are: 1. â€Hotâ€ because of their musical complexity and difficulty to play, 2. Memorable because of their innovation or effect they had on music in general at the time they appeared, or 3. Unusual, because one would ordinarily not expect to hear them in a rock and roll tune.
I got to thinking about what Licks have caught my attention over the years. Mind you, I didnâ€™t spend a good deal of time mulling over this list. These just popped into my cruller, so I thought I would share. The categories and picks are mine alone (doubtless many can think of better examples), and they are in no particular order.
Outstanding Bass Guitar Lick: Itâ€™s the two or three bar bass lick in the middle of â€œCall Me Alâ€ by Paul Simon. That is some ass-kickinâ€™ bass playing.
Two Guitar Solo: No question. Itâ€™s the two-guitar solo in the Eaglesâ€™ â€œHotel Californiaâ€. Gives me chills every time I hear it.
Piano Lick: Probably a zillion that could qualify, but the one that comes to mind is the piano playing at machine gun speed in the beginning of Billy Joelâ€™s â€œAngry Young Manâ€.
Ass-Kicking Song Beginning: Is there a better instrumental beginning of tune than the beginning of â€œChina Groveâ€ by the Doobie Brothers? That grabs you by the guts and wonâ€™t let go.
Guitar Hook that Runs Through the Entire Tune: Itâ€™s Mark Knopflerâ€™s guitar lick in â€œMoney for Nothingâ€. Honorable mention to Keith Richardsâ€™ guitar lick in â€œThe Last Timeâ€.
Drums: It is the very basic four bar â€œsoloâ€ in the Ventureâ€™s â€œWalk Donâ€™t Runâ€. This is a classic example of a lick that is not notable for its difficulty. On a scale of difficulty from one to ten, this is about a 0.1, but it caught everyoneâ€™s attention at the time and was probably responsible for Slingerland, Rogers and Ludwig selling thousands of drum sets.
Guitar Lick with Distortion: Gotta be the guitar lick in the Rolling Stonesâ€™ â€œSatisfactionâ€. I remember when the record first appeared, no one could figure out exactly what instrument was playing the now-famous guitar part. However, it didnâ€™t take long before music stores were selling â€œfuzz boxesâ€ like hotcakes.
Outstanding use of a Wah-Wah Pedal: For me, it is the beginning of Isaac Hayesâ€™ â€œTheme form Shaftâ€. Every time I hear that, I consider it a Master Lesson in the proper use of a Wah-Wah pedal.
Best Bassoon in a Tune: Small category, this, but ya gotta love the bassoon part in Simon and Garfunkelâ€™s â€œFeeling Groovyâ€ (a/k/a the â€œ59th Street Bridge Songâ€) as performed by Harperâ€™s Bazaar. Those four-note licks are absolutely perfect.
Best Recorder: This is another very small category. In fact, the only tune I know of that uses a recorder is the Rolling Stonesâ€™ â€œRuby Tuesdayâ€. I believe the now-dead Brian Jones played it. No, it is not a flute; it is a recorder.
Best Theremin: This a microscopic category. However, you can hear it played well by Rob Schwimmer in Simon and Garfunkelâ€™s recent live concert recording. of â€œThe Boxerâ€.
Best Kazoo: No question about it. Itâ€™s Denny, the Grouchy Old Crippleâ€™s live version of â€œRocky Raccoonâ€. This has never been recorded, but it damned well should be.