Tiny Desk

Bill Frisell

Download Audio

Bill Frisell: Tiny Desk Concert

It was early, maybe half an hour before Bill Frisell was set to arrive for his Tiny Desk Concert. Already, a crowd here at NPR was buzzing around, waiting to hear Frisell make his magic and watching him set up an array of pedals. I've never seen anyone play guitar the way Frisell plays: What I hear is a man on a mission of discovery, where one chord, one note, one effect can send him in unplanned, uncharted directions.

My palms felt sweaty the first time I saw him play. I know the stomp boxes he uses to make his loops — one of which is an Electro-Harmonix 16-second delay, a pedal I used to use in live performance in the 1980s. I know how fragile and sometimes unpredictable it can be, but it's the backbone of Frisell's bag of many tricks. With that equipment enhancing Frisell's nimble, deft fingerwork and uncanny sense of melody, it all adds up to a brilliant and disarmingly humble performer.

On this day, Frisell came to perform the music of John Lennon. Now 60, Frisell witnessed the birth of The Beatles and all that it meant to moving the world from cute, catchy songs to sonic adventures — a world of music we don't think twice about anymore. After all these years of hearing The Beatles' music, he's still discovering it, finding small phrases in the songs we know so well — "Nowhere Man," "In My Life" and "Strawberry Fields Forever." And here comes the cliche, which is a living truth: Frisell makes these songs feel new again. I only wish Lennon himself could have heard his music through Frisell's beautiful reinventions.

Set List:
  • "Nowhere Man"
  • "In My Life"
  • "Strawberry Fields Forever"
Credits:

Producer and Editor: Bob Boilen; Videographer: Cristina Fletes; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by: Mallory Benedict/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Tiny Desk Concert with Mitski Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Mitski

Mitski's music is dark and even scary, but glimmers of beauty peek through.

Gabrielle Smith performs as Eskimeaux at a Tiny Desk Concert on July 14, 2015. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Eskimeaux

There's lighthearted, almost childlike beauty in the way Gabrielle Smith puts words to song.

Tiny Desk Concert with Caroline Rose. Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Caroline Rose

Rose plays music as if she's just met her new best friend: It's fresh, fun and enthusiastic.

Tiny Desk Concert with Son Lux Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Son Lux

The trio blows up its sound by adding off-duty, civilian horn players from the U.S. Marine Band.

Tiny Desk Concert with Kacey Musgraves Lydia Thompson /NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson /NPR

Tiny Desk

Kacey Musgraves

The country singer plays four songs from Pageant Material, plus the set-closing "Follow Your Arrow."

Tiny Desk Concert with Restorations Morgan McCloy/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Morgan McCloy/NPR

Tiny Desk

Restorations

The Philly rock band's big-hearted songs are stripped down to a few guitars and a MiniKorg.

Tiny Desk concert with Torres Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

Torres

Mackenzie Scott's music channels Patti Smith and PJ Harvey while hinting at further growth.

Tiny Desk Concert with SOAK. Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lydia Thompson/NPR

Tiny Desk

SOAK

Irish singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson makes the most of a single voice and an acoustic guitar.

Tiny Desk Concert with Shamir Lani Milton/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Lani Milton/NPR

Tiny Desk

Shamir

The singer's disco-infused funk and soul gets stripped down to a lone voice with a guitar.

Back To Top