Human Flower Project
Bloom—Guitar Gardening with Eric
Strings are six green fuses that drive the flowers from Eric Johnson’s guitar. Nine years in the making, his Bloom is a prolific beauty.
Photo: via Amazon
Talk about “Eric” with the guitarzans of Austin, Texas, and they’re most likely twanging about local wonder Eric Johnson. We’d never heard of him till we moved to town in ‘99, but catching Johnson’s “SRV” (tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan) on the radio one afternoon, we phoned the DJ. Who was that???
What makes EJ ripe for HFP is his most recent musical offering, a collection called “Bloom.” There are lilies, plumerias, and sunflowers sprinkled around the liner notes, but beyond decoration there’s Johnson’s talent – a force of nature. No matter how many styles he sprouts, Johnson keeps true to his fixation—tone.
We find his playing pure, aromatic – even intergalactic. Johnson’s critics call him a “gearhead” – who labors so fervently for technique he loses his soul. We don’t hear it that way. For us, his playing is as bracing as eucalyptus. Not just “I Want to Take You Higher” but “I Can and I WILL!”
Eric Johnson, 2005
Photo: Max Crace
Bloom was released in 2005, nine years after his last studio recording. Here, too, Johnson comes in for criticism. He’s disparaged as a “perfectionist” who should be more productive. In a world bulging with hit-or-miss expression, what could be a dumber complaint? We’re reminded of the great translator Franz Rosenthal. He worked for decades to translate one of the sagest works in all human history, Ibu Khaldun’s Muqaddimah. It was published by Princeton at last in 1958, three volumes by the great 14th century Islamic scholar finally available in English after six centuries.
Somewhere in his introduction Rosenthal writes that people don’t care (or shouldn’t) how long any effort took you; they just care how good your work turns out to be.
So please listen for yourself to Eric Johnson’s title track “Bloom” and meanwhile enjoy these time lapse photos of an orchid, daffodil, amaryllis and peonies getting their own work done.
Eric turns 54 today.