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“Cliffs of Dover”, Eric Johnson, and Love of Music

This will prove to be a short post- but it’s always important to remind ourselves why we chase these guitar tones and musical experiences. It’s because we want to experience both sides of the love of music: creation and reception. I was on a gear-related forum a couple of weeks ago and folks started talking about Eric Johnson‘s “Cliffs of Dover“. Varying levels of elation and criticism were shared but one response stuck out perfectly. THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is how you talk about your love of music. I pray that each of us shares a similar experience at least once in our lives.

Just like major historic events that occur in your lifetime, I can remember exactly where I was the first time I ever heard Cliffs. I was a freshman in college, living in a new city and experiencing my first taste of freedom. A friend had an apartment that was in the converted basement of a commercial office building downtown. He worked for a hi-fi shop and always had a killer stereo system that consisted of gear he had acquired from the shop. McIntosh tube amps, Klipsch speakers, good stuff for back then. Because he had no neighbors we could crank it up loud. I saw a copy of AVM sitting on top of a speaker. I was familiar with EJ and already had a copy of Tones, but I wasn’t aware he had a new album out. I asked if I could pop the CD in and he said sure. It was one of those moments where time stops and you can’t do anything but stare straight ahead and listen. It was as if I were hearing music from the future–from another planet. The spacey synths, the backwards guitar, the wammy inflected feedback echoing off into the distance. And then… BAM! That open E followed by the most amazingly fast, yet melodic, run of notes I’d ever heard, turning around into that upbeat, instantly catchy melody. Blew my mind 20 years ago and still does today.

This is thanks to Mike Philpott, aka “jmp”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nick Whittington July 5, 2010, 7:59 pm

    I remember the first time I heard Dream Theater. It destroyed the guitar player I was…rebuilt me into the guitarist I am now.

  • Kip Fox July 8, 2010, 7:13 pm


  • Chad September 1, 2010, 9:27 pm

    I have always, always loved this song.