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Why the cigarette in the guitar?

28 Jan 02 - 07:18 PM (#637434)
Subject: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Shambles

Many years ago, aspiring and earnest young guitar players would place a lighted cigarette carefully between the strings at the top of their guitar. This would then be ignored and allowed to burn down slowly and add to the moody atmosphere (and general pollution).

This apparently had the effect of adding to the earnestness and authenticity of their performance.

I must confess that (even as non-smoker)I tried this in my youth. I can't honestly claim that my playing improved as a result but the girls seemed to fall for the effect (or the resulting lack of oxygen).

Anyone else going to admit to doing this?

Who was responsible for starting this practice?


28 Jan 02 - 07:29 PM (#637439)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Murray MacLeod

I think this practice was started by electric players, and I suspect a youthful Eric Clapton of being the instigator.

I used to do it too, even though I didn't smoke . It was just so unutterably cool...(at the time, that is)

Murray


28 Jan 02 - 07:33 PM (#637441)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Deckman

This is an old performers trick from long ago. The first, and best, that I ever saw was Walt Robertson. He would light the cigarette, puff a bit, introduce the song, puff and bit, and s l o w l y spear the cigarette on a long string. You were mesmerized between the words of his song introduction and watching the ash of the cigarette. Then ... he would start to sing the song. It was always something of a contest. Would the ash fall from the cigarette before the song ended? He was a master! As the ash got longer, he would start to sway with his body and guitar. Would he knock the ash off? He never lost. (I've often suspected that he speared the cigarette with a fine wire to hold the ash ridged). The bottom line ... just another great performers trick to keep attention. POST SCRIPT ... cigarettes killed Walt. Bob


28 Jan 02 - 07:34 PM (#637443)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Murray MacLeod

Just noticed Roger said "between the strings".

Naw, the ultra cool thing was to leave your E string uncut and impale the filter end of the stogie and have the glowing end bobbing around as you played.

Murray


28 Jan 02 - 07:53 PM (#637449)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: bill\sables

The Americans came up with the ultimate guitar cigarette holder when they introduced the Kiser Capo. The early ones had a hole in the end which held a cigarette very firmly, they said it was for taking string pegs out with but that never worked for me. When they brought out their new improved model they had put a scrol on the end which also holds a cigarette firmly.
Cheers Bill


28 Jan 02 - 09:15 PM (#637514)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: dick greenhaus

Josh White (the real one, not the Jr.) always kept a lit cigarette in his guitar strings. I did too, when I smoked. Where else you you keep it?


28 Jan 02 - 10:00 PM (#637541)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Gary T

Some people do this because they need a handy place to park the cigarette, which they lit intending to smoke it but it's time to start the song now. I've done it, and it never crossed my mind that there was an effect to be achieved.

I've never noticed one impaled on a string. I have seen them stuck into the scroll on a Kyser capo. The most common way, though, is to wedge it between the bass E string and the neck.


28 Jan 02 - 10:06 PM (#637543)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Jim Dixon

Seems to me I recall, back in the flower-child era, seeing someone with a stick of burning incense stuck in their guitar strings in the same manner.


29 Jan 02 - 12:59 AM (#637627)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Deckman

Gawd, it was hard enough to find breath to sing with a smoking cigarette burning 12 inches from your nose. An incense stick would leave me incensed! Bob


29 Jan 02 - 01:53 AM (#637644)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Shambles

Josh White (the real one, not the Jr.) always kept a lit cigarette in his guitar strings. I did too, when I smoked. Where else you you keep it?

I think with all the wonderful reasons given in another thread, for placing one's finger in one's ear to improve one's singing and the difficulties of doing this whilst playing an instrument, the best place for the cigarette was in one's ear.


29 Jan 02 - 01:58 AM (#637647)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Shambles

Why the finger in the ear?


29 Jan 02 - 03:16 AM (#637665)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Clinton Hammond

Sounds like a waste of a good smoke to me....


29 Jan 02 - 03:31 AM (#637671)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Cappuccino

The Deckman writes - "it was hard enough to find breath to sing with a smoking cigarette burning 12 inches from your nose." American Catters will exercise a high level of incredulity here, but in the 80s, in the British country-and-western boom, the audience would be dressed as cowboys, in the bizarre belief that there was some connection between country music and the wild west. They would have, in the interval, shoot-outs with replica guns that fired blanks.

Going onstage after that was like playing in fog. You could barely see the audience, and the first couple of songs would be coughed rather than sung!

- Ian B


29 Jan 02 - 04:26 AM (#637689)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: bill\sables

And it would all start up again if you played "Ghost Riders in the Sky"


29 Jan 02 - 04:38 AM (#637692)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Abuwood

Steve does this, it's really annoying, waste of money and drops ash all over the carpet!


29 Jan 02 - 04:42 AM (#637696)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Dave Bryant

What about Dave Swarbrick - he always seemed to have a cigarette stuck on the end of his fiddle - and I don't think that it was straight tobacco either ! It's a bit sad to see him with the oxygen tubes now, but he's still playing wonderfully - and there aren't that many people who survive AN OBITUARY.


29 Jan 02 - 10:25 AM (#637889)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST

Josh White (the real one, not the Jr.) always kept a lit cigarette in his guitar strings. I did too, when I smoked. Where else you you keep it?

I guess this moron (a real dick) never heard of an ashtray.


29 Jan 02 - 10:29 AM (#637893)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST

Odetta still uses incense in her guitar as she comes on-stage, playing. And I find the effect intoxicatingly beautiful and powerful. And I always found the cigarette thing a bit to hip to be genuine.


29 Jan 02 - 10:31 AM (#637894)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Steve Parkes

The really cool guitarists (i.e. those who didn't care about the cool effect) would squeeze the filter (unless they were even more cool and smoked Paley's Full Strength!) and force it between the bottom E and the headstock, so it stuck straight up in the air.

Steve

P.S. What about those guys who played with the ciggie in their mouths?


29 Jan 02 - 11:39 AM (#637952)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Steve Parkes

My typing has just gone to pieces since I stopped smoking! I mistyped Players', and it should have been Capstan!!


29 Jan 02 - 01:55 PM (#638049)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Don Firth

Walt Robertson told me that he picked up the "cigarette on the headstock" thing from Josh White. He said that another stunt Josh White used to pull would be to stick a lit cigarette behind his ear, like a pencil, then launch into a song (granted, usually a fairly short song). Used to drive people crazy wondering when he was going to set fire to his hair and/or blister the side of his head. At the end of the song, he'd casually reach for the cigarette and take a luxurious drag.

Once, one of Churchill's political adversaries was due to deliver a speech. As the speech started, Churchill lit up one of his ever-present stogies. The speech droned on and Chuchill puffed away and the ash on the cigar got longer and longer, eventually achieving what appeared to be a physically impossible length. The listeners got so fascinated wondering when the ash was going to drop that no one remembered anything about the speech. This, of course, was exactly what Churchill had in mind when prior to the beginning of the speech, he inserted a long hat-pin lengthwise through the cigar.

Don Firth


30 Jan 02 - 01:16 AM (#638508)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: WyoWoman

This is part of how my ex-husband first seduced me. He looked so damned cool doing that thing with the cigarette. He also had a couple of other cool-guy cigarette behaviors that intrigued me. I am, er, was so easy.

ww


30 Jan 02 - 02:05 AM (#638518)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Hrothgar

Because it won't fit in the ear with a finger there already.


30 Jan 02 - 03:28 AM (#638534)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Steve Parkes

Hrothgar, you play guitar with a finger in your ear? That expalins a lot!
Steve


30 Jan 02 - 06:29 AM (#638562)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: BanjoRay

Back in the sixties when I was at Aberystwyth university, we used to have a good session in the Angel on a saturday night. There'd be half a dozen guys playing instruments and everybody had an impaled fag (cigarette, that is!) hanging on a string end and waving about to the rhythm of San Francisco Bay Blues or Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out. Its a miracle the place didn't get burned down.

Cheers
Ray


30 Jan 02 - 03:54 PM (#638857)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Les from Hull

This trick has never worked well on my melodeon.


30 Jan 02 - 05:55 PM (#638926)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Dave the Gnome

Local (Manchester) Folk/Jazz/Blues performer extaordinaire, Pete Ryder, does it - But he usualy smokes roll-ups so they go out before too long! Suits Petes style to the ground though - any more laid back and he'd be horizontal...;-)

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


30 Jan 02 - 07:06 PM (#638973)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: AliUK

I always thought that it was so the guitar players could see their fingers on the strings in the atmospheric ( i.e. bloody gloomy clubs) they played in. Now I know why they didnt use a candel rammed between the e-string and the guitar neck. Thanks guys.


31 Jan 02 - 04:57 AM (#639220)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Shambles

Interesting to contrast the addmissions of plain affectation and of even being attracted by it, on this thread, to the other one where a serious argument is put forward for the benefits of placing one's finger in one's ear.

It is a fact with no shame attached, that when young in particular, we are very impressionable and need also to impress.

Singers with guitars, seem here to have a sense of humour and an ability to laugh at themselves. A quality not appearently shared by some of our more serious FIE singers.


31 Jan 02 - 05:04 AM (#639225)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Hrothgar

Actually, last time I played a guitar, lots of people stuck fingers in their ears.


31 Jan 02 - 08:12 AM (#639260)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: AliUK

I find if I stick my finger up my nose I can get that really good nasal quality that is prized amongst traditional singers, I think the FIE crowd got their extremities mixed up.


31 Jan 02 - 09:52 AM (#639318)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Shambles

Is the the FIE is the same as playing 'air guitar', or rather playing the 'air mobile phone'?


31 Jan 02 - 04:44 PM (#639520)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: vectis

What's the difference between a C&W singer and a folk singer?
Folk singers stick a finger in their ear C&W singers stick a finger up their nose.
C&W sounds very messy to me that's why I became a folk singer.


31 Jan 02 - 04:54 PM (#639534)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: vectis

Oh and yes, I did keep my cigarette stuck between my E and A strings when I smoked. Everyone "cool" did the same and, being youg, I really wanted to be grown up and cool.
Don't we do some daft things when young???????


01 Feb 02 - 04:40 PM (#640224)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST

Why, O Woman, would you be stupid enough to think that smoking is cool?


01 Feb 02 - 10:20 PM (#640369)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,Bardford

The Shambles- Funny you should mention 'air guitar', I just found this link with an illustration which clearly indicates where the cigarette should go:

Philson Air Guitar

Cheers, Bardford


01 Feb 02 - 10:39 PM (#640382)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: 53

cool.


01 Feb 02 - 11:47 PM (#640413)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,Bardford

That you, Bob? Welcome back.


01 Feb 02 - 11:51 PM (#640415)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: WyoWoman

Well, duh, Guest. It was 30 years ago and I was young, dumb and had seen too many movies in which the anti-hero peered out at the world through the haze of his cigarette smoke. Now, if I know a man smokes--at least if he has a habit--I'm not inclined that direction. I still bum 'em from time to time when I drink a beer, but I'm not interested in the health ill-effects from cigarettes -- which really begin to stack up once we reach our late 40s and up ... Nor am I interested in helping make some corporation rich at the expense of my own health.

ww


02 Feb 02 - 02:01 AM (#640453)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Shambles

The breakdown of the perfect 'air guitar' was proof positive. Thanks.

Maybe we could have a similar one for the perfect FIE traditional singer?

The importance of the facial expression, in order to obtain the correct tone when 'whiddling above the 12 fret' on conventional electric or on 'air guitar', must be stresssed too.


14 Oct 11 - 08:42 AM (#3238842)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,Gareth

I was wondering if it may be a way of getting a little nicotine fix when you are gasping for a fag but cant really stop playing for long.


14 Oct 11 - 11:23 AM (#3238899)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,leeneia

Have you ever heard that a burning cigarette produces carbon monoxide, which when inhaled, hurts blood oxygen and then brain function?

Because why the hell, really, would you put a burning cigarette near your guitar?

Similar case - two weeks ago somebody flicked a lit butt into some mulch here in River City and started a fire which did $200,000 damage to a nice home. Good thing nobody was burned or killed.

Let's all sing it together: Just GOTTA have that cigarette!"


14 Oct 11 - 12:23 PM (#3238932)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Amos

Well, no, let us not be over hasty. In the 60's, when 9 out of ten doctors smoked Camels, smoking WAS cool. And Woody Guthrie was walking proof. As were many others of the archetypal folkies we saw hovering in the constellation. If you were a smoker, and had a cigarette going, what to do with it when youhad to pick up and play? Sticking it between two of the strings above the nut was the perfect answer, where it would be ready to your hand when your number ended.

A


14 Oct 11 - 12:25 PM (#3238934)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Amos

9 out of ten doctors smoked Camels, AND L&M had found the secret that unlocked the flavor and there wasn't a cough in a carload...


14 Oct 11 - 02:11 PM (#3238979)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,Beetle Bailey

especially after Luck Strike green went off to war


14 Oct 11 - 02:44 PM (#3238999)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Dave MacKenzie

I thought they only did it to annoy the person sitting on their right.


14 Oct 11 - 03:34 PM (#3239027)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: goatfell

you cannae sing with it in your mouth


14 Oct 11 - 04:35 PM (#3239052)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Steve Parkes

A, but don't forget Nat King Cole! He always had a fag on when he was playing ... and look what happened to him.


14 Oct 11 - 11:11 PM (#3239204)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: JohnInKansas

you cannae sing with it in your mouth

But if you lick your lip just right it'll hang there, off to one side.

In younger times I've been known to smoke the cig, sip a beer, and play the penny whistle simultaneously for short passages - but it don't work at all with a harmonica.

John


14 Oct 11 - 11:35 PM (#3239212)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST

"Have you ever heard that a burning cigarette produces carbon monoxide, which when inhaled, hurts blood oxygen and then brain function?"

Yes. Now, what's your point?


15 Oct 11 - 12:52 PM (#3239435)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T

I suspect this is a habit that caused serious problems before filter tips became the norm.

I remember putting a Players Medium Navy Cut (famous UK non filter ciggie) between the bottom pair on my BM Classical......Double twang...!

Only did it the once!

Don T.


15 Oct 11 - 06:13 PM (#3239596)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,Spailpin

Brings back memories of bygone days , west Kerry and a benson stuck on the headstock ... I still smile at that burnt out paramount banjo !


29 Jan 18 - 08:14 PM (#3902718)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST

It's just stupid!


29 Jan 18 - 08:29 PM (#3902720)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,DTM

Alas, my little 60's combo amp still bears the burn scars from abandoned cigarettes back in those RnR days. It was a revelation when someone discovered you could stick your ciggie on the end of the top E string. As I recall, it was more of a convenience than trying to being cool. Thank goodness I gave up the filthy habit of smoking years ago.


29 Jan 18 - 08:55 PM (#3902729)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,paperback

John Constantine: You mind?

[reaches for cigarettes]

Satan: Oh, go - go right ahead; I've got stock.

John Constantine: [chuckles] Coffin nail.

Satan: Very fitting, John.


30 Jan 18 - 06:31 AM (#3902795)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: SPB-Cooperator

I found the practice put me off listening to the performance.


13 Jun 20 - 12:34 AM (#4059042)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: GUEST,William

Wow, I can't believe I found something from 18 years ago with a random Google search. I was just recently watching Post Malone do a live stream tribute to Nirvana and saw he had a cigarette on his guitar and asked Google. I'm not disappointed. Thank you, OP TheShambles.


13 Jun 20 - 01:35 AM (#4059043)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Bonzo3legs

Definitely Eric Clapton when in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, whom I saw several times!


13 Jun 20 - 04:06 AM (#4059059)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: The Sandman

i walked in to a folk club in 1966, and lots of singers guitarists were doing it.


13 Jun 20 - 05:41 AM (#4059064)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: JHW

Common sight impaled on a string end. Thankfully no smokers in Folk Clubs, some may say thankfully no Folk Clubs.


13 Jun 20 - 07:50 AM (#4059083)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Mooh

As a life long anti-smoker, I didn't like it back in the day and don't like it now. Just another stupid smoker's affectation.


13 Jun 20 - 05:20 PM (#4059145)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Vincent Jones

I'd assure people that, no, they really didn't look like a twat when they did that, or when they sang with a fag in their mouth.

Clapton may have been able to get away with it, or the Swarb with one in his gob whilst playing one of his matchless solos (see what I did there?), but, in my humble opinion, most other people just looked like tossers.

And working, as I do, in oncology, I expect that at least half of those that did it in my youth will now be dead or of concern to colleagues of mine.


13 Jun 20 - 05:29 PM (#4059146)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Bonzo3legs

Clapton was wearing spats on the first occasion I saw him in the Bluesbreakers at Golders Green Refectory Ballroom, but not the next time at Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead!


13 Jun 20 - 05:30 PM (#4059147)
Subject: RE: Why the cigarette in the guitar?
From: Bonzo3legs

And not forgetting the long sideburns!!