A.M. Wilhelm | Jeff Beck
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Jeff Beck

Greatest Living Guitarists of All Time Tour 2015

I give credit to my husband, Michael Hawes, for that nomenclature.

Leg 1: Jeff Beck, Orpheum Theater, Boston.

I whacked my fist into my husband’s biceps! “You didn’t tell me he was this good!”


He grinned back, saying, “I told you he made me cry when I saw him at Jazzfest.”

“Still . . .” The thought floated along inadequately. It couldn’t explain what my heart and mind were experiencing. Feeling somewhat adrift, I returned my attention to the stage and to this guitarist that I had known little about before this night. In fact, when I entered the Orpheum Theater in Boston, my pervasive thought was: everyone here is so old. And they were. With good reason–Jeff Beck is old, too. But his talent isn’t. If one looks at him through the lens of his ability, he is ageless.

What can I say? He is really, really good? Yes, I could offer that description, but words fail when you experience a genius creating something truly phenomenal right before your very eyes and ears. Perhaps that’s because life offers so few opportunities to build up this unique vocabulary since geniuses are so rare.

I said out loud, or to myself . . .I’m not sure (such was my transported state), “I can hardly believe he is human . . .like me? Surely, we can’t be of the same biological origins. Or, maybe you really can make a pact with the devil–Daniel Webster and all that. And, supposing we both are human and normal, why haven’t I found my calling in the same way that Jeff Beck has?”

I picture him as a boy, in love with his guitar before any girls would pay attention to him. He is skinny, and not what is considered the modern ideal of male beauty. Who knows, maybe that helped him become great. Had he been tall and gorgeous in those teenage years, he may not have been willing to make love to a musical instrument instead of warm girl parts. (Just supposition, unbacked by the requisite Google search).

I don’t know what made Jeff Beck a genius. Nonetheless, I love nothing better than bearing witness to all that a human being can be. It makes me feel we are going to be okay. It makes me feel happy and think the only answer in the world is “yes!” It makes me believe that while I may not be a genius, I may yet become something that inspires others. I offer my gratitude to all the boys and girls who stay alone in their rooms with their instruments. I promise that it is worth the effort.

Coming next . . .Leg 2 . . .Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Cape Cod Melody Tent.

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