If one album changed my life, this is it.

Just about 40 years ago, The Rolling Stones released Get Yer Ya Yas Out, and me, being always on the musical vanguard finally listened to it around 1978. At the time, I was into Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Van Halen and many other guitar-driven hard rock bands, and, in my educated opinion, The Stones were lame. I mean, Jimmy Page could run circles around Keith Richards, right? And Ian Pace of Deep Purple vs. Charlie Watts? No contest. As for vocalists, well, Rob Halford was a force of nature while Jagger, like, um, talked instead of sang.

My change of heart came, as it always does, over time. I first checked out Ya Yas based on the recommendation of a camp counselor, who scoffed when I sang the praises of Zep. Per his advice, I bought Ya Yas and put it on and... whatever. I mean, compared to The Song Remains The Same, well, it was amateur hour, I thought. But little did I know Yas Yas and the Stones had hooked me. Bad. Because I kept coming back to that album and every listen revealed more layers, whereas, say, Song Remains the Same started sounding a little stale. Plus, I started suggesting a few Stones covers for the various bands I was in and they were the most fun to play and always sounded pretty good. Especially Jumpin’ Jack Flash. But try as I might, I could never get the guitar parts to sound right on any of the Stones tunes we played and my obsession with figuring out all things Keith began.

Finally, in college, a friend showed me the all mighty open G tuning that Keith uses for so many Stones hits. Within months, I’d learned Honky Tonk Women, All Down the Line, Start Me Up and many more but one song still defied my attempts to learn it and no matter how many ways I tried to play Jumpin Jack Flash from Ya Yas it just sounded wrong. After college, when I was G.I.T., I asked couple of the instructors to help me, but the disdain these virtuosos held for Keith was palpable and their attempts to help me were somewhat half-hearted. And wrong.

It would be several more years before I finally learned the secret to the Ya Yas version of Jumpin Jack flash and it had two parts: an open tuning and a capo. The revelation came in a magazine article that walked through several examples of The Human Riff’s finest work, and when I first strummed out the song according the directions, it was... still wrong. I consulted the directions again and then followed them very, very carefully and, well, suffice it to say, I played Jumpin Jack Flash for days.

In the end, the quest Ya Yas sent me on changed the way I listen to music, changed the way I play it, and changed the way I write it, all for the better I think. Before Ya Yas, music was in two camps for me: songs and performance. In the song camp were Paul Simon, the Beatles, and a few others. In the performance camp were all the hard rock bands, with their crazed solos and stage antics. Ya Yas brought the two together for me. The album is neither song nor performance, it’s just music and everything matters: the groove, the hooks, the lyrics, the playing, the crowd, the sound, the mistakes, everything. Yes, I know the album was doctored in the studio, but I don’t care. Get Yer Ya Yas Out has stood up to more listenings than any other album, BY FAR, for me, and it set me on a musical path I have never left and probably never will.