Chris Erickson is a young pilot at our company up here in Washington. Easygoing and affable, he’s got an incredible sense of humor, which is probably why we get along as well as we do. But he’s not just a pilot: He’s a multi-talented guy who is handy with tools and can fix just about anything. (In fact, we lean on him a little too hard to be our general handyman.)
Chris is also an incredible musician who has taught me a lot about playing the guitar. We often “jam” together, which is really just playing the six or seven songs I know. Our intent is to polish our “act” enough that we eventually ambush karaoke night at the Bakery and take over with a surprise and impromptu duet set. We wanted to do it this past summer, but we’re “just not there yet.” Meaning I’m not good enough yet. Chris is plenty good enough. And I’m practicing.
We argue over certain songs. You know how, when there are different versions of the same song, it’s usually the one you heard first that’s the one you like best? Take “City of New Orleans,” for example. There have been so many versions of that great song over the years, from Willie Nelson to Judy Collins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed and John Denver. Even Steve Goodman, the guy who wrote the song did a version of it. I love ’em all but I, like you probably remember Arlo Guthrie’s as the definitive version.
Or “Me and Bobby McGee.” A number of people have done that one too. You might know that Kris Kristofferson wrote it and put it out as a single. But my introduction to the song was through Janis Joplin who’s version is definitive in my opinion. Chris begs to differ; he heard the Kristofferson version first and likes it best. I’m sensitive to that, so when we perform it, we make it a mashup of both Janis and Kris’s versions.
I like Janis’s version better because it’s more uptempo, more bluesy and has a key change in the middle. Kris Kristofferson’s version is kind of…I dunno…meh. It’s good, I guess, but maybe sometimes people who write songs aren’t always the best ones to interpret them. Wait, I take that back. On the other hand we have The Beatles: Has there ever been a remake or re-interpretation of a Beatles song by another artist that was worth a crap? No, there hasn’t. I’m sorry, there just hasn’t.
Then again… Chris and I do a version of “I Saw Her Standing There” that is killer. We’ll add it to our repertoire just as soon as we get the harmonies right and I perfect George Harrison’s mid-song guitar solo, which is proving to be troublesome. Nevertheless…I have no doubt that you will still prefer the Beatles version.
As I do.