Smithereens 11: Guitarist Jim Babjak Breaks Down 11 Essential Smithereens Tracks
Smithereens lead guitarist Jim Babjak breaks down 11 essential Smithereens tracks.
"Only a Memory"
From Green Thoughts (1988, Capitol Records)
"Only a Memory" was the lead-off single from our second album, Green Thoughts. I remember Pat coming up with the riff during a sound check in Madrid at the end of our first tour. We played it over and over again till we had a good groove going. When we got home, Pat started writing the demos for the new album and then we all worked together on the arrangements in a rehearsal studio. This whole process took only two weeks!
Don Dixon was called in again to produce and Jim Ball to engineer. It was the same team that worked on our first album in NYC, but this time we used the studio in the iconic Capitol Tower in Hollywood; it's that landmark round building that looks like a stack of records. It was a great experience to work there. Dennis and I even snuck up on the roof one night to take some pictures until a security guard found out and asked us to come down. The whole album, including B-sides, took us about two weeks to record in December 1987.
We had a bigger budget this time, so we were able to buy some new guitars. I used my new 1987 Gibson SG for the rhythm and solo. It had standard humbuckers and I played it through a 100-watt Marshall 800 series amplifier.
Pat played the riff on his new 1987 Fender Stratocaster, which was a reissue of the Sunburst 1957 Buddy Holly guitar. He installed DiMarzio Super Distortion humbucking pickups in the treble position, which also enabled him to record that cool feedback at the tail end of the song. He went through his 60-watt 1975 Boogie amp. It was one of the very first Boogie amps produced (serial No. 74) when they were still building them by hand out of a garage in California.
In the video for MTV, I used a new 1988 White Tuxedo Rickenbacker. I thought it was the coolest-looking guitar at the time and I used it for most of the Green Thoughts tour.
I gave that guitar to the Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood in 1991, but I don't think it's there anymore -- and I have no idea where it is. If you see the movie L.A. Story with Steve Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker, you can see the guitar above their heads in a scene that was shot at the Hard Rock.
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