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English singer/songwriter James Bay is well-known for his well-crafted takes on the classic love song, bringing together soul-stirring guitar licks and brutally honest lyrics that showcase not only his musical talents, but also his innermost thoughts. 

The Grammy Award-nominated artist recently added to his heart-bearing catalog with the 2022 album Leap, which is even more vulnerable than his previously acclaimed albums, Chaos and the Calm and Electric Light

Perhaps that penchant for expounding on his true feelings is what drew him to cover Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” a smash hit off the classic rock band’s chart-topping 1977 album, Rumours, for a new edition of Fender Sessions

“It’s a classic,” Bay said of the track. “I’ve always been drawn to that song … the guitar sounds, the sound of the band, the sound of the vocals. It’s the full package.”

Using an American Vintage II 1972 Telecaster Thinline, Bay added more of a rock tone to Fleetwood’s Lindsey Buckingham’s original composition, playing to the track’s emotional undertones. 

To Bay, Fleetwood Mac was just one of his main influences of the rich ’70s, all of which drew him to the guitar. 

“The very first thing that inspired me to pick up a guitar was ‘Layla’ by Derek and the Dominos,” he said. “That sound blew my mind. The guitar really rocked my world, and I felt compelled to get one and learn how to do it. 

“When I picked up a guitar for the first time, it was like the first time you realize you’ve got a crush on a girl. You’ve evolved. It’s like, ‘This is out of my control, and it’s going to lead me.’”

Initially drawn to the Telecaster, Bay believes that he can immediately sense if one is right for him by strumming the strings and then listening closely to the body’s vibrations — a vibe more prominent in vintage instruments.

“Vintage, to me, is all about history, stories … they’ve been places, seen things, known people,” he said. “Stories have been created with them, and I enjoy adopting those things and furthering those stories. The more these instruments are played, the more that they have to say, it seems. There’s so much emotion and human touch.”

For his second offering on this brief set, Bay unleashed the power of the American Vintage II Telecaster Thinline with “Love Don’t Hate Me,” a standout from Leap. With Bay taking the lead, his connection to this model is clear. 

“The guitar feels like a very important part of me — an extension of how I feel and who I am, and it’s still showing me new avenues and ways in which to do that,” he said. “I think we’re friends for life.”

To watch Bay in action, check out the video above. Learn more about the American Vintage II Series here.

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