"When I was 21," says Buddy Guy, "some of my older friends, who are no longer with us, they'd say, 'You're still a baby.' And then they said the same thing when I was 31, then 41, and I thought, `Man, when do I get old?' I've been hearing that ever since I first went to Chicago--'You're still wet behind the ears.' So when do I get dry?"
With his newest studio album, Living Proof, Guy takes a hard look back at a remarkable life. At age 76, he's a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago's fabled West Side sound, and a living link to that city's halcyon days of electric blues. He has received 6 Grammy Awards, 23 W.C. Handy Blues Awards (the most any artist has received), the Billboard magazine Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone ranked him in the top 30 of its "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." In December 2012, Buddy Guy received a Kennedy Center Honor, the nation's highest award for those who have influenced American culture through the arts, in a Washington DC ceremony attended by President and Mrs. Obama, along with fellow honorees David Letterman, Dustin Hoffman, ballerina Natalia Makarova, and Led Zeppelin.
Living Proof's opening track declares, today Buddy Guy is "74 Years Young," and still searching for new sounds and fresh ideas. The start of each new decade always seems to inspire him (see 1981's Stone Crazy, 1991's Damn Right, I Got the Blues, and 2001's Sweet Tea), and on Living Proof, such songs as "Thank Me Someday" and "Everybody's Got to Go" are strikingly personal meditations on his past, his legacy, and his mortality.
"The life I've lived is what we're singing about," he says. "These songs are exactly what I came up through in my life, what I've experienced." He credits producer/drummer Tom Hambridge (who co-wrote all the songs on Living Proof, and has previously worked with such artists as Johnny Winter, Delbert McClinton, and Susan Tedeschi) with helping to capture and preserve his innermost thoughts. "He would come in with a pad and a pencil," says the guitarist, "and while we were having conversations, he was writing down things I said and making songs out of them."
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