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"We were in Japan last autumn, and somebody in Tokyo had made me a beautiful custom blue guitar. It sounds fantastic. My name is engraved on it in gold letters," he says. "I know somebody in Switzerland who gave Sensible Music a custom Dobro with an electric pickup. It's about as thin as a Telecaster, and it sounds amazing."
Taylor, who left for the States the day after this interview, hadn't yet picked out his touring weapons. "When we get to San Francisco, I'll be able to get what I need. I know I'm taking some Les Pauls and a couple of Strats, maybe a couple of French or a Japanese Strat. Probably no acoustic guitars."
This brings up Keith Richards' instantly infamous recent gossip item: The Stone kept a guitar handed to him to autograph and sped into the night; a shocked fan left to give chase on foot. (Richards explained that autograph seekers often turn out to be people looking to profit from the sale of signed goods -- an opinion that should get him into the next NBA draft.)
Taylor, who tends to patiently sign napkins and answer questions for fans while on tour, hadn't heard the story. He pauses and says, "That sounds like Keith."
Taylor's morning regimen -- "Coffee, one or two cigarettes" -- is likely also a contrast to Richards'. That goes for his work ethic, too. "I should practice more, really, but there are always so many things to take care of," he admits. Asked when the last time he hit a bum note was, he chuckles and says, "A few minutes ago, probably."
He doesn't bristle at talk of his Stones tenure, but aside from the songs he all but owns ("Sway" and "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" are two), he has chosen to close that part of his oeuvre. Again, the sigh escapes him when asked whether fans have provided him with bootleg concert tapes for his review. "All the time," he says.
"I hate listening to my own music. I don't think that makes me too different from other musicians, especially in my generation. Especially the day after the show. It's my music or my playing. It's not for me to listen to, it's for me to do." And even if it's news to Americans, Taylor is still doing it, with understated elegance and, refreshingly, without an eye to the past.
Mick Taylor is scheduled to perform on Thursday, February 17, at the Cajun House in Scottsdale, with the Pistoleros. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.