From The Desk Of Steve Wynn: Albert Ayler And Ornette Coleman As Guitar Teachers

Fifteen years after he scratched a lifelong itch and moved to New York City, Steve Wynn has settled in nicely to life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The relocation also breathed fire into a music career that already had notched landmark albums by his first band, the Dream Syndicate, collaborations with Gutterball and a slew of excellent early solo releases. Once he turned 40, Wynn rolled up his sleeves and really went to work, cranking out masterpieces like 2001’s Here Come The Miracles and 2003’s Static Transmission. Wynn, wife/drummer Linda Pitmon, Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (Minus 5) are set to begin a U.S. tour. Read our Q&A with Wynn. (Also read our 2001 Q&A with Wynn, conducted by novelist George Pelecanos, as well as our overview of the Dream Syndicate and its fellow Paisley Underground bands.)


Steve Wynn: In the year or two before starting the Dream Syndicate, I spent hours and hours every day practicing guitar in the basement along with a handful of records. One of those records, no surprise, was Marquee Moon by Television. But the other two favorites were Albert Ayler’s Love Cry and Ornette Coleman‘s Dancing In Your Head. Both records are pretty open-ended, free-form (or “harmolodic,” as Ornette described it) and allow you to play anything. You can play anything and it will work, leaving you with the challenge to find the best anything that you could play. I swear, I got more pleasure and more ideas by playing along with these records than had I studied the entire works of Clapton, Page and Beck. Oh, and they’re great records for just listening as well.