Billy Gibbons Painting by Eileen Martin from Fine Art America
This is taken from today’s Guardian newspaper’s Film & Music section, which has been guest edited by David Lynch, and it makes for one of the most bizarre “music” interviews ever published:
Gibbons and Lynch – but mainly Gibbons, with the occasional “Doggone right” and “Exactly right, Billy” from Lynch – are talking about the beauty and power of industry. About the roar of factories, the growl of engines, about how the clang and clank speak to something within us. We’re meant to be talking about the block and tackle pulley system, but it’s pretty clear from the start that none of us can sustain a conversation about that, and so the block and tackle is just the key that starts the motor that in turn drives our discussion down the highway.
For Lynch, in any case, the block and tackle seems to be as much metaphor as literal device. It’s a system of pulleys, designed to enable a person to lift a greater weight than they could unaided. The pulley was invented around 2,400 years ago by the Greek philosopher Archytas, a scientist of the Pythagorean school (he’s also thought to have been the first person to invent a flying machine. Bright boy; his mother must have been proud). Then Archimedes realised the simple pulley could be expanded into something with even greater power – the block and tackle system, which he designed to help sailors lift ever greater loads, according to Plutarch. Thousands of years later, the basic system is unchanged: the block is the pulleys – the more pulleys you put in the block, the less the force you need to apply – and the tackle is the rest of the of the apparatus.
“I heard about the block and tackle and I’ve seen it work and it seems so magical,” Lynch says of his fascination. “It’s connected in my mind with the American car” – one of its common usages is to lift the engine block from the body of a vehicle – “and it’s kind of perfect that Billy talks about it. Billy had got a kind of guitar power – I always like the idea that his guitar is gasoline-powered.” That’s not quite the only reason Gibbons is joining us today. When Lynch originally asked for a piece about the block and tackle in this week’s Film&Music, we pointed out that the section dealt with film and music, rather than physics and mechanics. Lynch, though, was insistent. OK, he said, if you’re only going to do it if it’s got a film or music angle, then you can have ZZ Top talking about the block and tackle. And here we are
Read the full article David Lynch and ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons dream about machines over at The Guardian.