Nikki Lane’s live performances were shot on location at the Gibson Garage in downtown Nashville, TN. Nikki is performing with her Gibson Generation Collection G-00 acoustic guitar.
Above: Nikki Lane and her Gibson Generation Collection G-00 acoustic guitar.
When it came time for Nikki Lane to select a song to cover from Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” the choice was easy: Willie Nelson’s 1975 classic, “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.”
Why that one? “It’s always been one of my favorite Willie songs, and Willie’s always been one of my favorite living and breathing humans,” Lane says.
There’s also a more personal connection. “I’ve got these blue eyes, and I’m bound to cry,” she adds with a laugh. “And I’m probably going to do it in the rain so that nobody can tell…”
In truth, Lane, who was born in Greenville, South Carolina and spent time in Los Angeles and New York City before settling in Nashville, has always felt a connection to Nelson, as well as to the outlaw country movement he helped to pioneer. She once referred to herself as the “first lady of outlaw country.” “But I was saying it quite tongue-in-cheek,” Lane admits. “To me, Jessie Colter has always held that throne and artists like Nelson, Colter and Loretta Lynn have always resonated with me because they’re left-of-center. They live how they want, and do what they want.”
Above: Nikki Lane and her Gibson Generation G-00 acoustic guitar.
Even as Lane picks up fans and accolades throughout the country music world – in particular with her third and most recent full-length, 2017’s Highway Queen – she continues to mine a decidedly untraditional sound, mixing in elements of rock, R&B, indie, Americana and other styles, and working with artists as diverse as The Black Keys leader Dan Auerbach–who produced her 2014 album, All or Nothin’—and Lana Del Rey—Lane co-wrote and performed on the Chemtrails over the Country Club track, “Breaking Up Slowly”.
“I don’t want to be a revivalist,” Lane explains of her approach to country. “I listen to Spiritualized, and I wanna party with Nick Lowe one day, you know? And I grew up with rock ‘n’ roll influences, Motown influences… all these things seep in. But, because I sing pretty ‘country,’ this is what I sound like, however, I don’t want to have any limitations or boundaries on what I do.”
That limitless approach extends to her guitar – a Gibson Generation G-00 acoustic guitar – as well. In addition to premium artist features like all-solid construction, a thinner-than-usual body and an easy-playing neck, the Gibson Generation G-00 is a smaller, parlor-sized guitar that boasts a truly limit-pushing design concept: the all-new Gibson Player Port. This innovative feature, an original Gibson concept from the early ‘60s, projects sound out toward the player via a side-mounted sound hole on the body’s upper curve. Meaning that unlike with a standard acoustic guitar, musicians can now hear their instrument the exact same way the audience hears it.
“When you’re playing an acoustic guitar, the sound hole is facing out toward the microphone or the audience in the room,” Lane says. “It’s never quite directed at the person making the music. But with the G-00, it’s quite charming to write, or record, or perform from the perspective of having that sound come right back at me. It makes playing guitar more fun, whether I’m just sitting at home practicing, or out in the world playing my music.”
Lane took the Gibson Generation G-00 acoustic out into the world to play her music for Rolling Stone, performing two of her original songs, “Send the Sun” from the album All or Nothin’s, and the title track from Highway Queen. In the process, she demonstrated how she uses the G-00 like a sonic paintbrush, describing what was happening visually in her mind as she played. Gibson then took Lane’s descriptions and sketched out icons, graphics, memes, and illustrations, and created a beautiful, animated video of Lane performing “Highway Queen” that highlights her creative flow state while performing with her Gibson Generation G-00 acoustic guitar.
Watch Nikki Lane’s animated performance of “Highway Queen” with her Gibson Generation Collection G-00: Here
“To watch your creativity come to life in that level of HD for the animated video is shocking,” Lane says. “Just seeing the guitar and the sound literally resonate in a visual way is really amazing.” Her intention, she continues, “was for people to be able to slip into what my mind feels like for those three minutes-to pull you into a whirlwind and come down into my world, and then let you off easy, so you can go on with your day.”
As for how Lane imagines her sound “looks”?
“I think of it as you’re driving along, and the moon is so bright that you can turn off the headlights out in the desert. Or maybe you’re by the seaside, or even on a city street. But no matter where you are, everything is just pulsing with the rhythm of the music. And there’s a starry hopefulness to it… but with some darkness just teetering on the edge, you know?”
Above: Nikki Lane with her Gibson Generation G-00 acoustic guitar.
When it came to choosing songs she would perform, Lane chose “Highway Queen” because “it’s the most authentic representation of who I am as a guitarist and a front woman and a band leader.” As for “Send the Sun,” she continues, “‘Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain’ is a bit of a tearjerker, so to balance it out, I picked one of my sweetest, brightest songs.”
“Blue Eyes Cryin In The Rain” (Willie Nelson cover song, Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs 2021 List): Here
While she calls those tracks two of her favorites, Lane is most looking forward to playing material from her brand-new studio effort, which she says is already completed. As for her inspiration this time, she continues, “I was joking after Highway Queen, which was a record about being in the van and touring relentlessly, that if I wasn’t given an opportunity to live a life outside of being on the road, I wasn’t going to have anything to write about. And so the new record became a really reflective record.”
Watch Nikki Lane perform her original song “Send The Sun” (Nikki Lane): Here
When it comes time to bring those reflective songs out on tour, she’ll have her trusty new Gibson Generation G-00 acoustic by her side. “It’s an amazing instrument,” Lane says. “And with the Player Port on top, I finally get to hear what everyone else Is hearing. It’s funny to me that I’m the one performing at every show, and I’m also the only one who’s hearing a completely different sound. Now I get to have the same perspective as someone in the audience.”
What’s more, she continues, “I just love the smaller, parlor size shape of the G-00 and the thinner body and neck, which just makes it easier for me to play, and makes me want to play more. And aesthetically, I love the vulnerability of the blonde, untreated wood. It’s just a simple, straightforward guitar. It reminds me of the roots of guitar playing. Like, when you look at Trigger, Willie Nelson’s guitar, it’s a pretty simple guitar that he’s just worn to pieces by taking it everywhere with him. That’s what I intend to do with my G-00.”
Watch Nikki Lane perform her original song “Highway Queen” (Nikki Lane): Here