It was one of the biggest thrills of my 37 years of rock writing to chat with Steve Cropper for the first time in 2019.
He’s recorded and performed with many of the world’s finest musicians, and is widely regarded as one of the top guitarists of all time.
So I was kinda shocked to by his response when I asked him what he would say was his best quality as a guitar player.
“I’m very limited as a musician, as a guitar player,” he said, “I know that. I know my imitations. But the thing is, you gotta know where the holes are in a song, you don’t want to step in them. It’s like acting–you don’t want to step on someone else’s lines. You wait until they’re done, then you say your line. So I would listen to what they were doin’.
“I’m not sure–maybe studio musicians do and did–but I’m not sure these young guys nowadays really listen to what’s going on. It’s usually after the fact. So the producer, the writer, the singer, have to find the holes themselves and find a place to be. And it’s in the mix and they will duck stuff out, because most musicians just want to play everything they’ve ever learned and impress people.
“And I didn’t care about that,” Cropper added. “The difference in me is, I can play the same rhythm for eight hours if I need to, over and over, and have fun doing it, and other guys get bored after four bars of that.”