Track of the Week: “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” by ZZ Top
November 30, 2010 1 Comment
With a title like “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide,” ZZ Top better deliver some riffage bursting with plenty of attitude. Fortunately for us, this song delivers on the title’s promise. This song makes me want to grow a neck beard, wrestle a lion, drop-kick Randy “Macho Man” Savage and save 4 million orphaned puppies from a burning building. Ooh yeah!
And how does Billy Gibbons, the vocalist and guitarist for ZZ Top, convey the ultra-manliness on display here? With an aggressive tone driving sledge-hammer pentatonic-based blues riffs.
One of the benefits of improvising using the pentatonic scale is that the guitarist isn’t burdened with a ton of information to process from note to note. The pentatonic scale is a simple scale that doesn’t offer a ton of harmonic possibilities, but it does leave a lot of room for expression. That’s why the blues and rock solos are known for their intensity. The pentatonic scale affords the guitarist more musical gesticulation in exchange for less contemplation.
Billy Gibbons would never have sounded so manly if he used any other scale. If he used, say, the mixolydian scale, Gibbons would have pondered the harmonic implications of each note instead of melting your face off with pure rock power.
Melting people’s faces off…that’s pretty manly right? I think so!
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