I’ve almost posted this thread countless times in the past, and have abstained each time, worrying that it is perhaps too mundane and pointless, or that it might seem unintentionally insulting to a fine (if dead) musician. But I have Googled with all my Googlosity for discussion of this topic to no avail, and I must have answers. So, tonight, I ask the Straight Dope.
In Sublime’s hit single “What I Got”, lead singer and guitarist Bradley Nowell utters these words:
…which are followed abruptly by this (roughly transcribed) interlude from said instrument:
The first time I heard this – surprisingly recently, actually – I started laughing. I immediately assumed it was intended as a joke, since a series of 21 slow, plinkily-picked notes are not what I would consider “playing the gui-tar like a mother fuckin’ riot”; I figured Nowell was poking a bit of fun at himself. My friend who was in the car at the time, however, seemed confused by my amusement, and asked me what I was laughing at. When I told him, he said that he did not think the line was supposed to be a joke, and that the words and the following instrumentation were not meant to be considered together as I had done. Further discussion with random acquaintences has upheld the idea that the line is serious, with one person stating that the plink-solo is more difficult than it sounds for the guitarist to play (admittedly, I wouldn’t know, as I’m not a guitarist, but then, neither is the person who said this).
So, what say you? Did Nowell intend for this line to be tongue-in-cheek humor, or did I read too much into it?
Furthermore, is plinking a guitar in such a manner actually that difficult a technique? I would hope not, as it certainly doesn’t sound terribly impressive, and I don’t know why one would go to the trouble of mastering it if it took that much work.