Metheny hopes so--and this innovator of middle-American guitar speak is quick to add that his nomadic music is not without roots. "The thing that keeps me going is the actual music and the pursuit of trying to get better as a musician," he says. "This has been kind of my base ever since I can remember. Also, I do have a base in the sense that, for the first 17 years of my life, I lived in one house, with my parents in a very small town. My whole early life--it was idyllic and it was great, but I was really wanting to have a lifestyle something like I have right now, because my early years were so, so stable. I think that's given me a foundation to do all of this."

His upbringing also taught him modesty: You'll never catch him claiming to be one of the six-string wonders of the world. "There are some guys who are just incredible guitar players, who just play the instrument unbelievably well. I'm not really in that category," he says. "I mean, I can sorta play."

Sorta play?
"I don't even think about the guitar," he continues. "It's not a priority for me. It's just this thing. It's like a voice box for me. It's the thing I get from my head out. I have a limited spectrum of things that are available to me. So I have to fill each one of them with something that has real meaning. But there's only certain things I can do. I can't play, like, all over the instrument--like ridiculous. It's not like I'm the greatest technician that ever existed on the guitar, ever."
Sure--and without his hair, Albert Einstein would never have amounted to anything.

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