PM: I was amazed last night by your guitar style.
PM: I think somebody alluded to it in something I read--but I was shocked to see, "Wow, he's playing everything with his thumb!"
JS: I think it's interesting that after all this time it's something that people just have never noticed or never cared about it.
PM: Whether someone plays or not, how can they not notice it? It's like, "This cat is playing everything with his thumb!"
JS: That's right. That's right. I think it's really interesting that people say, "Whoa, you played them all like that! You kept doing it over and over again!" Yeah, that's the only way I know how to play. I taught myself how to play when I was a little kid, I was about thirteen, on my brother's guitar, which was a right-handed guitar. And I'm a lefty. And I just tuned it to a chord, basically, and just went, "Okay, there's a chord. And here's another chord when I bar it here. And when I bar it--hey, they're all chords up and down the neck. I can do this."
PM: "I'm in business."
JS: That's right, with all major chords definitely. I had to figure out how to play the minor chords.
PM: Yeah, I don't think I noticed how you played minor chords.
JS: Ah. Well, with the bottom string, it's tuned to an open G up until the bottom string, which is an E.
JS: And so that would make it a minor.
PM: Oh, okay. Then you have the relative minor on the bottom.
JS: So if I use the bottom string, it becomes a minor chord.
PM: And otherwise you don't use that bottom string.
JS: That's right.
PM: Wow! That's interesting. That's almost--that's like Keith Richards-esque.
JS: Or Richie Havens-esque, maybe--or Elizabeth Cotton-esque.
PM: And she's also left-handed upside down, right, Elizabeth Cotton. [So that's what it is, really: guitaristically, Jules is a cross between Richie Havens and Elizabeth Cotton.]
JS: Richie is right-handed, I believe, but he does that open-tuning thing with his thumb.
PM: Right. But his low strings are up here, right?
JS: I believe so. They should be at the bottom, shouldn't they, low strings at the bottom?
PM: Yeah, well, call me old-fashioned, Yeah, I think so.
JS: I think that's the way it goes, man, I don't know.
PM: That's really amazing. It's almost like a clawhammer banjo or something, it's so backward.
JS: [laughs] Well, that's why it all seems natural to me.
PM: And it sounds good, that's the bottom line. I mean, that's the whole bottom line--you write good songs, and the guitar sounds good, and that's all that matters.
JS: There you go. [laughter]