From the Stacks

From the Stacks: Jimmy Bryant, ‘Laughing Guitar, Crying Guitar’


Jimmy Bryant was a monster guitarist. If he’d been born in 1955 instead of 1925, he might be remembered as one of rock’s greatest shredders, a man who could fly through arpeggios at Yngwie Malmsteen speeds. Lucky for us he wasn’t. Django Reinhardt’s influence is easy to spot in Bryant’s music, a taste of jazz to contrast frequent partner¬† Speedy West’s country lap steel. Check ’em out–these boys had the goods:

But as much as good as there is to say about Jimmy Bryant’s outrageous playing, there’s an equal amount of bad to say about the cover to the guitarist’s Laughing Guitar, Crying Guitar album.¬† Did the art director think we didn’t know what laughing and crying look like? Do fans of guitar records harbor secret clown fetishes? And just who did that clown whack to earn his teardrop? The teardrop alone earns this sleeve a place in the Bad Album Cover Hall of Fame.

Want your own copy of Laughing Guitar, Crying Guitar? Expect to pay around $10-15. Happy hunting.

(Bonus fact: Bryant’s first instrument was the fiddle, and he picked up side and studio work on both instruments. That’s his violin on the Monkees’ “I’ll Never Be Free,” if you know that deep cut.)



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