To me, the hook of the riff is what makes a great guitar recording. It's the backbone of the whole song. When you have a strong riff, it's the rocket fuel for the track.
I wrote "Miner's Prayer" after [grandfather] died. I'd gone back to his funeral, and he died in 1979. And I came back to California, and I think a couple of weeks after that funeral wrote that song thinking about him, his life.
Those songs [from church], I think, shaped to some degree how I would evolve as a writer, pentameter of songs, the melodies of those kind of hillbilly hymns - I used to refer to them - because they were not Southern gospel as much as they were passed down from Scottish Welsh Protestant hymnals.
It's more in retrospect as I've thought about it over the years and look back at what I wrote, how I wrote things - like there's a song that Ralph Stanley later recorded with me that he had guested on my record what was called "Travelers Lantern" that I wrote as basically, you know, a hymn.
In the past 3-4 years I've developed a habit of keeping numerous small cassette recorders in my house and in a bag with me so that I'm able to commit to tape memory song ideas on a constant basis.
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