Joe Satriani Discusses — Track by Track — His New Album, 'Flying in a Blue Dream,' in 1989 Guitar World Interview
Here’s our interview with Joe Satriani from the November 1989 issue of Guitar World magazine. The original headline was “Blue Heaven: It was worth the wait. Joe Satriani’s Flying In A Blue Dream is a master’s masterpiece.”
"Sounds great, Joe … cool riff … hot solo there, Satch …"
These are the sounds of a man granted a private preview of a masterpiece-in-progress by a giant of rock guitar. Open-mouthed enthusiasm hardly becomes a Jaded Journalist, but what can you do when you're blown away?
I'm sitting In Joe Satriani's cozy suite in L.A.’s Le Parc Hotel. The guitarist opens a door leading to the terrace and considers unpacking his clothes. We agree to first hear “a few” of his new tunes, and discuss rock star finery later (particularly our mutual fondness for Big John black jeans).
Down to business. Satriani comes armed with his wife’s boom-box and a confusing array of cassette tapes. Since some of the mixes are in extremely rough form, he's brought along his Tascam four-track, too.
"Good thing you've got a trained professional here,” he deadpans, untangling the cords and assessing the electrical outlet situation. Momentarily nonplussed by the blaster's auto-reverse, he organizes his tapes, most of which contain material that very likely will soon set the music world on its ear.
Joe's been bearing down for a month, holed up in Berkeley Studios with trusty cohorts John Cuniberti (co-producer, percussionist) and Jeff Campitelli (drums, percussion), poring over arrangements, parts and mixes. For some sections, Satriani utilized the services of his touring rhythm section -- bassist Stuart Hamm and drummer Jonathan Mover.
In 1987 Satch’s landmark Surfing With The Alien garnered tremendous AOR play and, ultimately, gold record status -- both almost unheard of for a guitar instrumental lap. Unlike some of his colleagues, Satriani the performer was no stage elitist who ignored his audience. Satch brought his music to the crowd, playing with a zest and appeal rarely displayed by a non-singing instrumentalist.
And now he returns. Flying In A Blue Dream, his new album, is a winner -- a square sucker-punch against standard guitar-oriented music and its play-it-safe parameters. Those expecting Surfer II may be disappointed at first; Flying In A Blue Dream cuts a large swath across some pretty wild, fairly unchartered musical territory. Heavy dance funk, grunge-ola blues, a Celtic, almost U2-flavored anthem, and other tracks that defy easy categorization all crowd this large album. It rocks as hard as it grooves. And oh, yes, Satch sings, too. Quite nicely.
Certain to excite, impress and provoke a profound, sympathetic response in guitarists everywhere, Flying In A Blue Dream soars-surfs on wings of wondrous extremes.
What are you going play first?
This is the title track, "Flying In A Blue Dream." It's interesting how this was composed. I took an acoustic guitar and tuned it to a low, open F chord [C-F-CF-A-C, low to high]. I play a lot with open tunings. On some songs I used open A, which is nice and chimey, but I needed something lower -- I wanted it in the solar plexus region. The F tuning had the right feel, but I knew going into the studio that the low C on the E string was going to be a problem. It 's the kind of thing that's hard to hear on a cheesy car radio. In modern systems you hear low B's all the time, especially in dance music.
Like the Bobby Brown stuff.
Yeah, it's that low. I don't even know how low this blaster's going to go. [Sweet, biting feedback leads into the faint sounds of a small boy, recorded during a Fifties radio broadcast. The words are unintelligible but the effect is magical. Over a machine-like rhythm and a repetitive set of chord changes, the song begins. The melody is one of the most haunting Satriani has ever composed. Ethereal yet stinging, the tone is unmistakably Satch. Lush, cascading acoustic harmonics beautifully complement this tour-de-force of phrasing and color.]