David Wilcox

David makes a point

David's first two A&M records (How Did You Find Me Here and Home Again) were recorded with a Larrivée guitar. But James Taylor let David play his Olsons backstage after a concert, and Wilcox reported in his 1994 Acoustic Guitar interview that it was "love at first strum." David now plays an Olson SJ. His 1994 recording, Big Horizon, was the first he recorded with an Olson; all his subsequent albums feature his Olson guitars.

David discusses the role his Olson guitar has played in his recent songwriting in the Acoustic Guitar interview, "Tuning In: The Guitar Secrets of David Wilcox," by James Jensen (Nov/Dec 1994 issue):

Wilcox: Songwriting for me is based mostly upon my belief that the guitar knows the song. If I listen to the guitar, put it into some weird tuning and begin to experiment, it plays me a melody. I say to the guitar, "Wow, that's beautiful, what's it about?" and the guitar replies, "How does it make you feel?" And I might say that it makes me think about this or that, and the guitar says, "Well, that's probably what it's about then."

At that point I ask, "What's next?" and the guitar usually responds by saying, "It depnds on what the lyrics are about. Why don't you start writing, and I'll tell you the rest." So I start writing ideas and the guitar says, "Stop right there, this is the part, you've got to put these words with this phrase." And I say, "Oh guitar, you're killin' me!"

It's kind of like the monkeys and typewriters thing, where if you have enough monkeys playing on enough typewriters one will eventually type out the sonnets of Shakespeare: that's my method of songwriting. If you're writing songs, you can have a lot of talent or a lot of time, and choose the time method. I think that if you know what you like and have a way of creating interesting mistakes that will give you new variations—for me it's the open tunings—then the laws of probability are in your favor. You will have an endless supply of new ideas, and if you continue to sort through and store them on a tape recorder, you can gather these great musical ideas, as if you had the talent to make them up, when it was really the guitar, of course, that wrote all the songs.

So do you owe Jim Olson royalties?

Wilcox: People ask me why I like Olson guitars, and I tell them that they have more songs in them. It's really true; they do.

David in AG

Wilcox was also the subject of a cover story in the November/December 2000 issue of Fingerstyle Guitar (issue #40). There he says of his Olsons, "... the Olson guitars are the best I've found, and I'm always looking. They have warmth and clarity, but can still deliver a punch when played hard. The neck is so strong that the action doesn't move when the bass strings are tuned way down." The CD accompanying the issue includes Wilcox's song, "Guitar shopping," recorded with his Olson in CGDGBE tuning. Tablature for the song is in the issue.

Wilcox's main guitar is an SJ with a cedar top and east Indian rosewood back and sides. See the Soundbites page for some examples of his playing. His first SJ was stolen from an airport baggage handling area; see our Stolen Olson page for more information about this instrument. He also owns two other SJs, including one with an Adirondack spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides currently being used by Al Petteway.

You can find information about David and his music at The David Wilcox Home Page and at The Unofficial David Wilcox Page. Also, check out L. Clator Butler's Home Page. He manages the David Wilcox list server, and you'll find information there on how to subscribe to the list server, where to find other online David Wilcox information, and where to find chords, lyrics, and tablature for some of David's music.

David Wilcox