Songs featuring the slide guitar
September 25, 2013 3:26 PM   Subscribe

I was just listening to Tiny Dancer by Elton John and really enjoyed the slide guitar in that song. What are some other particularly good songs I could listen to featuring it?
posted by jamincan to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think BJ Cole does a ton of this. I only know/can recommend his collaboration with Luke Vibert though. Here's an example
posted by aubilenon at 3:33 PM on September 25, 2013


This live version of Midnight In Harlem by Tadeschi Trucks Band has one of the best slide solos I have ever, ever heard. It really is something special. (Solo at 3:55, but please listen from the beginning so you can get some context)

I love Robbie McIntosh's slide work on several of John Mayer's songs, here he is ripping on Crossroads (slide solo at 3:53)

Those are pretty blues-centric solos though, if you want something closer to TinyDancer or the coda to Layla I have oodles more.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 3:34 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) use of slide in many songs. I figure if you google him and slide guitar, you should find quite a bit.
posted by foxhat10 at 3:39 PM on September 25, 2013


* pulls up chair, sits down *

A couple of underappreciated slide guitarists first - George Harrison (especially his solo stuff) and Bonnie Raitt. George apparently picked up slide guitar right around the time the Beatles broke up, and it helped George kind of establish a new sort of Post Beatle Persona. And as for Bonnie Raitt - okay, maybe you're thinking of the whole late-90's soft-rock comeback thing she did, but back in the day what she was known for more so was being a kick-ass slide guitarist and blues gal. Here's one of George's - Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth), and here's Bonnie doing a cover of Stevie Ray Vaugn's "Pride And Joy" in concert.

Led Zepplin may also be a rich source.

So could any of these performers.

Or any of these songs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:44 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Brad's Page of Steel has some recommendations
posted by blob at 3:45 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mazzy Star "Fade into You" and Lynyrd Skynrd "Freebird." (A phrase I'll probably never type again.)
posted by juniper at 3:52 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


That sounds like a lap steel guitar in 'Tiny Dancer' - Beck's Rowboat is one of my favorite songs featuring lap steel.

Slide guitar I think usually connotes playing a guitar in the usual configuration with a glass or metal tube over a finger on the left hand, versus lap steel where the fretboard is in your lap and you slide a metal bar along. But I only barely know what I'm talking about here. I do know that Foghat's Rod Price was one of the all-time slide guitar greats.
posted by usonian at 3:54 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jerry Douglass is a name you'll want. His album Slide Rule is a good start. Also check out his work with Alison Krauss.
posted by trip and a half at 3:54 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slide guitar I think usually connotes playing a guitar in the usual configuration with a glass or metal tube over a finger on the left hand, versus lap steel where the fretboard is in your lap and you slide a metal bar along. But I only barely know what I'm talking about here. I do know that Foghat's Rod Price was one of the all-time slide guitar greats.

Yeah, I think we have a confusion in terms here. The bluesy stuff is all great, but it's not pedal steel, which is stereotypically a more "country" instrument. This is BJ Cole, who plays pedal steel on Tiny Dancer.

"Sneaky" Pete Kleinow was another huge pedal steel guy, and played with the Byrds and a bunch of other bands, but he's more country sounding.
posted by LionIndex at 4:00 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


For slide guitar used in an unconventional way (as if there's a conventional way), The Edge from U2 used it in some of his older songs, most notably Gloria (the solo), Bullet The Blue Sky, Surrender and a few others.

If you don't appreciate The Edge's normal guitar playing you probably won't appreciate his slide playing.
posted by bondcliff at 4:37 PM on September 25, 2013


The Rolling Stones have some nice slide guitar (Brian Jones was one of the best slide guitarists around when he played, in my opinion).

I'm thinking of Torn and Frayed (which doesn't feature Jones) but - there's this lovely little bit at about 1:47 in the song with some nice little slidey bits.

Their Exile on Main Street and Let it Bleed albums have the most slide guitar - although they (read: Brian Jones) do some nice work with it on their cover of I Wanna Be Your Man (originally a Beatles jam) and on the Beggar's Banquet song No Expectations, too.
posted by k8lin at 4:43 PM on September 25, 2013


Thanks for all the suggestions! I guess usonian and LionIndex are right in that I was actually thinking of the pedal steel guitar. That said, there are some great suggestions in here and definitely feel like my horizons are a bit more broad and that I've learned a few things. I actually love blues, so a lot of these suggestions are right up my alley.
posted by jamincan at 4:45 PM on September 25, 2013


Going a bit further back, Alvino Rey was very well known for pedal steel. (Trivia: He was also the grandfather of Win and William Butler of Arcade Fire.)
posted by usonian at 5:35 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Take This Job and Shove it by Johnny Paycheck, but that might not be your cuppa tea...
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:41 PM on September 25, 2013


Songs: Ohia - Farewell Transmission is, IMHO, a particularly good song, which I believe features pedal steel. It is the opening track of the excellent Magnolia Electric Co. album. The closer, Hold on Magnolia also would fit the bill. Everything on the album is a winner – I highly recommend it.
posted by mean square error at 5:43 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for asking this! I've been obsessing over the full Breaking Bad theme song since last week and wanting more.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:59 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


George Harrison's Give Me Love has amazing pedal steel solo, same sort of mood as Tiny Dancer.
posted by apparently at 6:03 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pedal steel is the best! THE BEST. Ben Keith, who played on Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces," is also Neil Young's guy. To me, he makes "Old Man" the masterpiece that it is. Also check out Jon Rauhouse, who I know from his work with Neko Case - you can see him playing on "Deep Red Bells" here.
posted by kickingthecrap at 6:05 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was just listening to John Lennon's #9 Dream last night, and marvelling at the beautiful slide guitar during the "Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé" sections, courtesy of Jesse Ed Davis.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:24 PM on September 25, 2013


On Dark Side of the Moon, some wonderfully dreamlike slide is featured on Breathe and The Great Gig in the Sky.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:29 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're after lap/pedal steel look for songs featuring Greg Leisz.

k.d. lang - Save Me (couldn't find a non-live version soz)
Matthew Sweet - Your Sweet Voice
posted by elsietheeel at 6:34 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


CSNY's Teach Your Children has nice, country-ish pedal steel guitar throughout, played by Jerry Garcia.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:41 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rocket Man (original w/slide guitar)

YEP!'s version (with pedal steel)

(I knew Rocket Man had one of these; technical differences courtesy of the internet.)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:45 PM on September 25, 2013


Have we seriously gotten this far without even a single mention of Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant?!? The undisputed kings of slide guitar.
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:48 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and the songs from the Summertime Dream album by Gordon Lightfoot, have the pedal steel guitar.
posted by clarkstonian at 7:20 PM on September 25, 2013


The entire Daniel Lanois album Shine will be to your liking. It also has Emmy Lou.
posted by chrismc at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2013


Yep. Pedal steel.

All of Ryan Adams & The Cardinals' album "Cold Roses"

Van Morrison - "Wild Night" (off "Tupelo Honey," which has a few other nice pedal steel tracks, like "Moonshine Whiskey")

Uncle Tupelo - "No Sense in Lovin'" (Off "Anodyne," whose titular song also has some nice steel guitar moments)

Bob Dylan - "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" (off of "Nashville Skyline," not "Live 1975")

Rod Stewart - "Mama You've Been On My Mind" (off "Never a Dull Moment")

Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris - "That's All it Took" (I prefer the "Live 1973" version)
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 8:58 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Friends of Dean Martinez always use pedal steel. I think they are mighty fine.
posted by current occupation: at 9:13 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Check out Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Robert plays pedal steel on most of his songs. Here he does an interview and shows how he plays it. Here he is playing "Billie Jean" on the slide. Excellent interpretation. Finally, here he is at the Crossroads guitar festival playing the March. He also talks about playing the 13 string pedal steel and how he deviates from its typical country usage.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:23 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]




Here are two Lucinda Williams songs with pedal steel, but there must be lots more.

Sweet Old World
Tryin' To Get To Heaven (live)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:16 PM on September 25, 2013


And who can forget Steve Howe's pedal steel on "Soon" (originally from the 1975 album Relayer by Yes, performed here in 2001)
posted by tenderly at 12:43 AM on September 26, 2013


Though Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" didn't originally feature a slide solo, the solo was later adapted into a literal bottleneck slide solo for Zombies touring performances. Here's one of those performances, with the solo starting at about 4:30.

Still sends shivers up my spine every time I watch.
posted by arishaun at 4:44 AM on September 26, 2013


Drowse, by Queen. It's one of those songs that Roger Taylor wrote, so the drum part is great, too.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:37 AM on September 26, 2013




Just bottle neck steels:

When Eric Clapton was doing the electric Layla, Greg Allman dropped in to listen, and ended up doing the classy riff, without credits.

Also, Bonnie Raitt, pretty much anything.
posted by mule98J at 3:43 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't this a Dire Straits thing, too?
posted by Room 641-A at 7:41 PM on September 28, 2013


Joe Price.

If you're in the Iowa area he is well worth seeing!

Oh, and the White Stripes, esp. their blues covers (for example, Death Letter).
posted by Gooberoo at 2:43 PM on October 2, 2013


Buddy Emmons practically revolutionized pedal steel guitar by making innovations in the design of the instrument as far back as 1956, not to mention just owning it completely. Heck, he introduced the instrument to jazz, too. See also his entry in the Steel Guitar hall of fame. (I'm going to do an FPP on him soon.)
posted by not_on_display at 10:51 AM on October 4, 2013


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