Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/20/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>John Hiatt

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS

WHEN JOHN HIATT WAS A TEENAGER in the '60s, rock was one of the blasts that ripped the generation gap wide open. Now that he's an adult, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter has used rock to mend that gap at home.

Hiatt was having trouble relating to his 15-year-old stepson, Rob, after he married the boy's mother, Nancy, in 1986. That changed when Rob asked his new dad who Led Zeppelin was. Suddenly rock and roll became a subject the two could share.

Rob started introducing Hiatt to the rugged guitar licks of Faith No More, Sonic Youth and Screaming Trees, which Hiatt would listen to as he drove the teenager to school. With Perfectly Good Guitar, "I was just trying to score some cool points with my kid, truth be told," says Hiatt of the new record, which brims with more rugged guitar riffs than you can shake a pick at.

The Indianapolis-born rocker—whose career has survived two decades, four record labels and 11 albums—has had his share of critical if not commercial success. This rowdy record he says has left him "feeling a good wind at my back, which had to do with hitting my 40s and not being so gosh-darn worried about what kind of music I'm going to make."

Rob has not critiqued the new disc yet, but his stepfather says that just making it was enough. "This is my Ferrari F40 and young, blond chick," says Hiatt with a throaty chuckle. "My wife agrees. It's a good thing to have your wife on your side during your midlife crisis."

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