One Track Mind: John Frusciante, “Wayne” (2013)

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John Frusciante has released a lengthy, darkly emotional rumination, written for a friend that went back to the guitarist’s days in the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Wayne Forman, tragically, died before he could hear this tribute.

It’s of particular interest, of course, because Frusciante’s most recent release — 2012’s progressive synth-pop stunner Letur-Lefr — contained so little, well, guitar.

This one on the other hand is all guitar, moment after searing moment of emotion, poured out over a metronomic backing beat. Frusciante, who helped the Chili Peppers to their late-1980s commercial breakthrough in one of two stints with the group, hasn’t sounded this present on his first instrument in years. It’s a triumph of execution and depth.

And learning the rest of this song’s story only makes “Wayne” more involving.

Frusciante had stopped by to see the ailing Forman, who was battling cancer of the kidney, only to find him resting near a CD player. The guitarist rushed back home, with an eye toward recording something for Forman — but finished it the day after his friend passed.

The 52-year-old Forman, who died on April 7, owned Waynos Catering — which supported tours by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among many others, over the years.

“When I used to play in arenas,” Frusciante wrote on his web site, “I would often mentally aim my playing at him. Wayne loved long guitar solos, and he was my favorite person in the audience to play for. As everyone who knew him is well aware, he was also the best chef ever.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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