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4 minutes 40 seconds
Artist website: http://www.vai.com
What makes this video great and what can you learn from it?
- a diabolical Steve Vai
- a guitar duel as the climax of a movie - you simple have to love this
- Steve Vai unable to play something, which doesn't happen in real life 😉
What can you learn from the article?
- Crossroads story synopsis
- Melody & feel vs. technique?
- who recorded the evocative movie soundtrack
- watch an animated tab video to learn the "Eugene's Trickbag" piece
Takeaway: Call me nostalgic (which I might very well be) but Crossroads did quite a few things right. Lots of Blues folklore elements included in the story leading up to a legendary guitar duel between Karate Kid and Steve Vai.
This scene alone would have justified the whole movie. Most "mature" guitar players, meaning people older than millenials, will most likely already have seen this scene repeatedly. Anyone else can now rectify this omission.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 19 seconds
What The Movie Is About
Here's a quick rundown of the Crossroads story background leading up to the duel scene. Eugene Martone (played by Karatekid Ralph Macchio) is a Classical guitar student at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. He is also into Blues and dreams of becoming a Bluesman.
He gets to know Willie Brown and helps him escape from an old folks prison facility so Willie can settle some unfinished business in Mississippi. As a reward for helping him escape, Willie would teach him a supposedly lost song by the legendary blues guitarist Robert Johnson.
For the Love Of Music
Speaking of Robert Johnson...
I simply had to include this video. It's a recording of Mr. Johnson performing his tune "Crossroads" while the animation covers the story/legend of why and how he became good and famous, and ultimately got murdered.
During the journey, Eugene learns that Willie sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads and regrets the deal. He wants to redeem Willie's soul and makes his own deal with the devil at the same crossroads.
All Eugene has to do is to win a guitar duel against Jack Butler, the devil's guitarist of choice - none other than Steve Vai in a truly diabolical performance. Easy, right? 😉
Take-aways From Crossroads
Just some quick thoughts and observations...
- It must have been tough for Steve Vai to pretend not to be able to play those parts where he eventually failed. The stuff he played earlier was actually way more difficult.
- All of Steve's guitar antics are nicely countered by bluesy slide licks. Melody and feel are powerful elements of music.
- However, notice how all the Classical training and dicipline culminating in the Paganini influenced piece "Eugene's Trickbag" saves the souls of Eugene and Willie Brown. So the Crossroads producers didn't take the easy route of bashing technique and chops and putting feel and bluesy licks on a pedestal. Technique is important as well and has its place.
- Also, it helps to be open-minded and learn to play in different styles. Don't just be a one-trick pony.
- And finally, don't go into a guitar duel with Steve Vai unless it's a scripted movie and you know how to play "Eugene's Trickbag." 🙂
To help you achieve this and to be prepared for such an occasion, here's the piece again. This time including tablature.
Back in the late 80's I wore out at least 2 VHS tapes of the movie just watching the famous guitar duel scene. Watching, rewinding, watching, rewinding....
If you haven't seen Crossroads yet, it's well worth checking it out for all the guitar scenes sprinkled throughout the movie.