We’re rapidly approaching the year anniversary of the pandemic. In my case, I have been teleworking since March, spending most of time within a mile or two of home, sitting around the firepit, and burning up bandwidth with multiple video calls and meetings every day. I recently got my annual Spotify usage report, and I racked up more than 60,000 minutes of music plays in 2020. Couple that with the inevitable binge watching of some great programs on Amazon, Netflix, etc, and I am feeling the need for some additional media diversions.

YouTube has been around for a long time, and there are those who have figured out how to monetize their videos as they accumulated thousands or tens of thousands of viewers. I have looked to YouTube for music content that I can geek out with, and I have been surprised at the amazing programming that is out there for music fans and musicians who want to learn more about certain artists, songs, technical tools, music theory, and musical genres.

Rick Beato is a professional musician/producer/engineer that has become one of the top music YouTube stars. He has made hundreds of videos and series, including “What Makes This Tune Great”, “The best…”, and “What if…”, amongst others. I love his videos, and with more than two million followers, Beato has a lot of influence. They make you think and give you a huge amount of information about the styles, influences, technique, and musical philosophy of many great bands and musicians. Beato is also a musical activist for the notion of fair use. When you are going to talk about a specific song or solo, it’s best that you are able to at least play excerpts of the song. Some musicians disagree and think when Beato plays their music, he is ripping them off. It’s too bad that they don’t realize that a Beato video can serve as a huge advertisement for their music. Here’s a list of some of some of my favorites videos he has made. Some are loaded with musical theory that I have trouble getting my head around, and others bring back great memories and recharge me with the joy of music.

What If EVH or Eric Johnson Played the “Stairway to Heaven” Solo? This video, made last October right around the time that Eddie Van Halen died looks at the seminal guitar solo that Jimmy Page played on Stairway to Heaven and asks the question, what if guitar greats Peter Frampton, Eddie Van Halen, or Eric Johnson played the solo. Because Led Zeppelin does not want Beato to use their music, he first sets down all of the tracks of the song during the guitar solo–a Fender 12 string electric, drums, organ, bass and a few measures of lead electric guitar. Beato then reaches out to friends: Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X to play a Van Halen interpretation, and Eric Johnson to play his version. Beato takes on a Peter Frampton interpretation. The result of this experiment is amazing, each solo style sounds like it was part of the original recording, providing similar spine chills to Page’s original. https://youtu.be/1cOosnkWj2g

What Makes This Song Great? Episode 35–Steely Dan’s Don’t Take Me Alive. My favorite Steely Dan Album has got to be the 1976 release, The Royal Scam. This recording has some of the greatest guitar solo work ever recorded in the Rock genre, with the great Larry Carlton shining on every tune he’s on. My favorite tune on the album is Don’t Take Me Alive, which is interesting because the tune opens with a Carlton guitar solo. Beato is such a good guitar player, he can play along with Carlton note for note. His examination of the music theory is only for the musical geeks, but for Steely Dan fans like me, the whole video is fascinating. If you like this one, check out episode 3, where he goes through the superlative Kid Charlemagne guitar solo. https://youtu.be/HPNAGq0Te2U

Steve Gadd: The DRUM SOLO That Changed Popular Music The year after The Royal Scam, Steely Dan released their masterpiece Aja. On the title track, Steve Gadd, a session drummer known for his work with a number of jazz fusion artists, plays a solo so exciting and complex that perhaps it has never been repeated–the greatest rock drum solo ever? Beato goes through how the track was made through eyewitness accounts and clips from the song. Gadd provides the rhythm for a solo by the great jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who basically walked into the studio and recorded an overdub in six takes, in 35 minutes, all of which were used by Becker and Fagan for the sax solo. Combined with Gadd’s brilliant drumming, this is one of the superlative moments in rock music. If you like Aja, you’ll love this video. https://youtu.be/BXH7cqrTbmM

Classic Albums | The Music I Love and Why–Rick Beato and I are basically the same age, and when I saw this video I was amazed that our musical interests are very similar. In this video he goes through a stack of his vinyl albums quickly explaining on each why they are so good, and classic. Albums like Pat Metheny’s 80/81, Bill Evans – The Village Vanguard Sessions, Weather Report’s Heavy Weather, Keith Jarrett’s Koln, Swervedriver’s I wasn’t Born to Lose You…you get the idea. Give this a watch and you’ll get a great idea of where my musical interest lie, along with Beato’s. https://youtu.be/2HZTYpSuhAc
Steve Chase is geeking out to Rick Beato videos in Unison.

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