The first thing I learned about David Lindley, besides his amazing musical career which I followed for years, was that he was a very private person. When wondering if there was a chance I would ever interview him I knew I had a challenge on my hands. Then I got to thinking about just how much he had to say about the multitude of instruments he played. He knew background history that would be incredibly valuable to document. And so I patiently set out to pursue an interview with him.
To my great surprise, he loved the idea of doing an interview for NAMM and that we would be focusing not on his career but on the instruments that he has played. The only issue remaining was arranging a place and time, which took seven years! There were many ups and downs during this time, a couple of funny anecdotes, and a few frustrations but in the end, when the interview did take place, it became one of my career highlights! He was so kind with his time, he was so open and honest about his career and he offered just what I had hoped for, great instrument history. And he played for us!
David has been classified by many as a multi-instrumentalist, but I'm not quite sure that's the right term for him. It's not just that he could play a variety of instruments and do it exceptionally well, it was that he could pick up every instrument and play as if that was his sole instrument, the one that he was trained on and practiced for years. When he spoke of his slide guitars, violins, banjos and ouds (among others), it was as if he was talking about dear and personal friends. Well, I suppose he was.
The NAMM Oral History interview took place at the Folk Music Center in Claremont, California,with our videographer, Suzanne Del Fiorentino on June 24, 2021. Needless to say, it was a wonderful day.
When reflecting back on the accomplishments of a studio musician like David, we tend to want to list the big artists they worked with, which is fair to do, it's fun. With David, I think it's even more meaningful to think about the great artists who hand-picked David to be on their recordings, like Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Crosby & Nash and David Bowie!
In the background, and sometimes not even given credit, there was David with that impish grin and fingers wildly flailing around the instrument. He added spice, a flavor that would forever change your opinion of that song. Take the song “Running On Empty.” It would be a great song without David, but when his racing slide guitar is added, the song propels you along as if you are truly racing to the next gas station to fill up.
I'm not exactly sure why I was so lucky to interview him, but I sure am glad I was given that amazing opportunity. My teammates would answer that question for me, patience and persistence!
Click here for David's NAMM interview webclip.
Dan Del Fiorentino