100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 47 "Jessica" (Dickey Betts)

Dickey Betts’ instrumental “Jessica” is as uplifting a piece of music as can be found in all rock. And that, says Betts, is no coincidence: the music actually began with his desire to express pure jubilation.

“My instrumentals try to create some of the basic feelings of human interaction, like anger and joy and love,” says Betts.

“With ‘Jessica,’ I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn’t quite find it. Then my little daughter, Jessica, crawled into the room, and I just started playing to her, trying to capture the feeling of her crawling and smiling. That’s why I named it after her.”

Betts wrote the song’s melodic theme while emulating one of his heroes—the gypsy guitarist Django Rheinhardt, who had the use of only two fingers on his left hand.

“I came up with that melody using just two fingers as a sort of tribute to Django,” says Betts. “That the song turned out so well is very satisfying. In general, writing a good instrumental is very fulfilling, because you’ve transcended language and spoken to someone with a melody.”

Next: 46) "Hot for Teacher"