The Lap Steel Guitar has totally caught me off guard. When I was a kid and teenager I hated country music and just wrote it all off as “redneck music”. How narrow minded we were as teenagers and beyond – at least for a while. I also made fun of Hawaiian music.
Then “it” happened. I was relaxing in Hawaii – most likely Kauai – and I heard Hawaiian music for the first time – the birthplace of the Lap Steel. It was like magic. My mind was relaxed and I had no silly preconceived notions – and I started loving the sound of the Lap Steel. Sure – I half made fun of that sound as well – but I had to admit to myself that I did really like it and no longer judged it.
Several “Americana” bands started using lap steel – even if just a little bit – like R.E.M. and then all of a sudden it was hip. Uncle Tupelo and Son Volt also did the same – and so did some edgier “Psycho-billy” and other bands that were post punk.
All that then had me circle back to country – some of it I started liking. I still can’t say I like some of the schmaltzy 70’s country and the dreaded redneck “Southern Rock” – but that was mostly goofy stuff like “Convoy” and other dreadful stuff. But hey – every genre has its good and bad – and opening my eyes and ears sure was a good thing.
The Lap Steel is the first electric guitar – and while limited to one tuning – I have recently really fallen in love with it. It helps me write songs from a different perspective – I was getting into a rut with the “regular” guitar – and needed a change up – a change of pace.
Its just a board with a pickup and strings – yet I’m finding it incredibly “elegant”. For such a simple instrument – its quite amazing how you can play it – it offers a true journey to anyone who has an open mind and tries. In fact – I have been playing it in a way that its hard to know if its a regular guitar or a slide guitar – which I find is pretty dang cool.