Many guitar solos are pure wankery. Not these, at least not to me.
  1. Kurt Cobain, "Sappy"
    "Sappy" is also known as "Verse Chorus Verse," which shouldn't be confused with another Nirvana song called "Verse Chorus Verse." This solo has a full, rich tone coated in metallic silver and sounds at times like it's being projected through a tube. You can find it on the "With the Lights Out" collection. Listen here:
  2. Doug Martsch, "Carry the Zero"
    The solo in this Built to Spill song soars. Martsch glides from note to note, sustaining sounds until they feel like they'll shatter. It falls in an unusual place for a solo: immediately following the first verse. No matter, though; it just means you can enjoy it as soon as possible. Listen here:
  3. Emily Sailers, "Welcome Me"
    It's 1990. Metal is on its way out, grunge's popularity is a couple of years away. Musically, I'm out to sea. I confide in a co-worker, who hands me a cassette the Indigo Girls' "Nomads, Indians, Saints." On the first listen I realize that there is more to music than leather and masturbatory guitar solos and screaming. There's real passion, deep meaning, authenticity. And it was Emily's solo on "Welcome Me" that hooked me. Listen here:
  4. Neil Young, "Like a Hurricane"
    I suppose I could swap out just about any Neil Young solo for the solo--really solos--in "Like a Hurricane." That's not an insult; it's a recognition that Neil approaches solos, to paraphrase Jack White's advice on how to play guitar, like he's trying to win a fight. On "Like a Hurricane," Neil jabs and dances, stabbing each note with sloppy accuracy. I could listen to this song every day. Listen here:
  5. Eric Clapton, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
    Not the White Album version, the solo from the Concert for George, a celebration of George Harrison's life one year after his death. In the solo in the latter half of the song, Clapton expresses his deep love for his old friend in every note. When I watched the concert on PBS, I cried. The look on Dhani Harrison's face during the song is devastating, and the small exchange between Eric and Dhani at the song's end is beautiful. Listen here: