Johnny Marr has revealed that he believes his guitars carry a chi “life force” within them.
The former Smiths guitarist and now solo artist was reflecting on the guitars he has been passed down by musical legends like Nile Rodgers or Bryan Ferry – along with the instruments he has gifted to the likes of Noel Gallagher or Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien – when he spoke about the spiritual power he believes they carry.
Speaking in a recent In Conversation video interview with NME, Marr was asked if he feels like the musicians are on his records, or if he’s on theirs.
“It’s a definite, valid thing. 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,” he shared. “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 then elaborated that the relationship between the player and the guitar goes even deeper, to something that he perceives as spiritual. “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,” Marr said.
“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!’
NME was speaking to Marr ahead of the release of his first ever solo Best Of compilation, ‘Spirit Power’, along with the release of new book Marr’s Guitars – a visual guide through his extensive collection. The musician has also announced a 2024 ‘Spirit Power’ greatest hits UK tour.
Elsewhere in the conversation, Marr spoke about his admiration of Billie Eilish – having written Bond theme ‘No Time To Die’ with Eilish and her brother/collaborator Finneas – describing her as “a modern-day version” of The Cure.
“It’s funny, Billie is definitely coming from a similar sensibility but I think it has a similar vibe to it, in a way,” he said. “A modern version. I can imagine being really into her records when I was 16 or 17.”
In other news from Marr, the musician recently shared that he quit drinking after gifting Noel Gallagher with an expensive guitar.
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