“It’s a definite, valid thing”: Johnny Marr says all of his guitars have chi flowing through them
“My Les Paul Custom has still got Pretenders chi in it from Glastonbury, without a doubt.”
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The concept of chi refers to a type of life force that flows through everything, even inanimate objects. And Johnny Marr is convinced it flows through guitars, too.
In a new interview with NME, the former Smiths guitarist is asked if, were he to receive a guitar from, say, Nile Rodgers or Bryan Ferry, and he played that guitar on a record, would Rodgers or Ferry, in effect, be on the record, too.
“It’s a definite, valid thing,” he says. “It’s in your mind. I could tell you it’s a fact that if you have a guitar, even a brand new one, and you loan it to someone who is a good player and a good person and they really love it, then it comes back two weeks later, it feels great.
“Back in the day when I was younger, you’d lend a guitar to one of your mates. If they were not treating it well then you’d have to fix it up.”
He continues: “I once asked this acupuncturist, an old guy in Los Angeles years ago, about chi. He was amused by my line of questioning, because I wanted to know if guitars had chi – a life force.
“He was explaining it and said, ‘When you leave your house to go away on holiday for two weeks, then you walk through the door to come back and the house feels really odd? That’s because it’s got no chi in it. It’s the Daoist thing. Look at the Dao de jing; it’s this belief in the force of life that makes a plant want to reach towards the sunlight. I’m already on board with that. He said, ‘Yeah, your guitars have got chi in.’ I was like, ‘I knew it! I knew it!’”
Asked to give some examples of some of his guitars which have chi in them, he goes on: “My Les Paul Custom has still got Pretenders chi in it from Glastonbury, without a doubt. My Smiths guitars from certain records have got that kind of chi in it.
“Bernard Butler’s got what was my 12-strong 335 that I used loads on the last Smiths album and Sheila Take A Bow. I also used it on the Talking Heads album. Bernard will tell you that the thing is bursting with chi.”