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(Credit: St. Vincent)

Music

The song that made St. Vincent want to become a guitarist

In 2017, the Record Store Day organisers asked Annie Clark, the American singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso better known as St. Vincent, to be the event’s ambassador – the position taken on by Taylor Swift this year. Previous designees include Dave Grohl, Jack White, and Chuck D. 

Clark is known for her restless creativity and aptitude for creating complex compositions using various instruments. Her eclectic taste in music has been reflected in her output over the past two decades as she has fearlessly fused genres such as classical, kraut-rock, power-pop, soul and hip-hop. 

When promoting Record Store Day in April 2017, Clark spoke to Entertainment Weekly to discuss some of her musical influences and pick out some of her favourite records. 

First up, Clark was asked what song most reminds her of home. “When you say home, I’m thinking of Texas,” Clark replied. “That’s what I consider home. I used to hear ‘Amarillo by Morning’ by George Strait a lot growing up; it’s a classic country song.”

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Later, Clark named the record in her collection that she would save first in a house fire. “I’m not a vinyl collector in the sense of having really, really expensive [records]. So, what’s a record that I spin more than anything? Evening Star, by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno.” However, she explained that her most prized vinyl rarity is You’re the Guy I Want to Share My Money With by Laurie Anderson, John Giorno, and William S. Burroughs.

Elsewhere in the interview, Clark demonstrated her eclectic tastes namechecking Kendrick Lamar as her favourite rap artist and madonna as her favourite pop star. She also showed her love for David Bowie, selecting his 1977 album Low as the album that transports her to another world. 

Entertainment Weekly also asked Clark what song made her want to become a guitarist. “I was in the sixth grade when Forrest Gump came out, and I remember hearing Jimi Hendrix’s version of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ in it. A friend’s dad showed me his 1960s white Fender Stratocaster, like the one Jimi played and taught me a couple [riffs] from [the song]. I was totally hooked. I was already obsessed with music at that point, and I just wanted to be Kurt Cobain. But after that brush with the Stratocaster, I begged my parents to buy me an electric guitar.”

Like so many before and after her, Clark was mesmerised by the dynamic playing style of the true “Guitar Hero”, Jimi Hendrix. Listen to the pivotal Bob Dylan cover below.