Shredfest ’93, Or The Paul Gilbert Duet That Never Was

Mr Big

I’m a daydreamer. I always have been. One of my current favourite hobbies is going to zillow.com to check out super-expensive homes for sale or rent in Laurel Canyon, then kinda just blissing out over the idea of waking up there, making a coffee, strolling out to the deck with an acoustic guitar and tweedling out some licks while while taking in the aroma of the eucalyptus trees. I’ve met people who don’t daydream at all, or who mistake daydreaming with goal-setting. I’d bloody love to live in Laurel Canyon but I’m not actively working towards it and I’m not fussed if it never happens: it’s just nice to go there in my head for a bit. Anyway, while pondering the nature of daydream recently, I remembered one of my favourite daydreams.

It was in December 1991. My family used to go to the seaside town of Bermagui every year right after Christmas. The seven-hour drive was always pretty brutal, but by ’91 I had a kickass tape deck that fit right behind my seat in dad’s four-door Ford F-150. Jam some headphones in that sucker, crack open a MAD Magazine and zone out until the next pee/snack break (my favourite was the town of Adaminaby, with its giant Rainbow Trout sculpture. Seriously, you’ve gotta go see that thing). That year my brother Steve gave me Mr. Big’s Lean Into It album for Christmas, and I brought it along for the ride, along with a few of my other favourites at the time: Steve Vai’s Passion & Warfare, Metallica’s ‘Black’ album, Van Halen’s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

img_0161So here’s where the daydream comes in. I remember this as clear as if it happened yesterday. As I listened to Lean Into It‘s opening track “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy” I started to think about how awesome it would be to record a song with Paul Gilbert. I could picture it all so clearly. It would be an instrumental shred duet. We’d both be playing Ibanez PGM models because Paul would totally have given me one because we’d be best mates of course. Our song would start with a driving riff then kick into¬†an awesome call-and-response verse. Then badass harmony chorus. An even wilder call-and-response second verse. Badass harmony chorus again. Then we’d each take extended solos. Paul’s would be really cool. Mine would utterly wipe the floor with him. I mean it would slay that dude. Poor Paul. And he’d be cool about it, of course, because he’s such a nice guy. And we’d make a video for it. It would be Paul and I, walking along a highway (the highway we happened to be driving along while I was having the daydream), kickin’ dirt on the side of the road. The camera would focus on a nearby snake before re-focusing onto me and Paul shredding on the road in the distance. We’d do some takes of us shredding in the middle of grassy fields. Maybe put a foot up on a fallen tree for a killer rockstar pose.

And the name of the track would be “Shredfest ’93” because I was a realist and I figured I wouldn’t be good enough to wipe the floor with Paul Gilbert within one calendar year, but I’d probably be able to do it by ’93.

Of course part of the thing about daydreams is they’re allowed to be impossible.