Published Feb 01, 2000"I've read, or not read, as many books as the next guy. I drive a 1983 Chevy Silverado truck with a hot rod engine in it. I take out my trash and cut the grass. Life is life." Except life for 29-year-old Ben Harper, in the last six or seven years, has included touring the world and recording four excellent albums that have seen him evolve into one of the best guitarists, singers and songwriters in rock'n'roll, a medium increasingly lacking in dedicated heroes.
And dedicated he is. Despite the fact that his new album, Burn To Shine , is his best yet, balancing the politically-informed blues rock of his early work with more diverse songwriting and a more openly personal perspective, he's not resting on his laurels. "I feel like I've done the best I can possibly give onBurn To Shine , and I'm on to record five, just that quick. I'm still not matching the music I hear in my head on a daily basis. I'm still not accomplished enough, and I've yet to earn the right to that music by way of discipline, hard work and practice. I wouldn't want to belittle any previous records, but I have a long way to go. If you're not always getting better at what you do, it's time to do something else."
For now, it seems, all Ben Harper does is work. "I'm only going to work harder, and spend more time behind my instrument, in thought, concentration and writing songs. I'm sort of one dimensional, and I could see where people would find me extremely mundane and boring. When I want to get away from guitar playing, I work on my voice. When I'm tired of singing, I work on my guitar playing. When I want to get away from songwriting, I learn someone else's song. In my spare time, I practice and woodshed so I can get better at what I do. I don't want to come across as a lame, boring guitar geek, but my main focus with my free time is to indulge myself with my instrument. Music is it."