Monday, August 04, 2008

Play Guitar

My latest obsession is more productive than my previous addiction to Call of Duty 4, the latter of which I hope I am truly over. Since I bought a new computer with the latest video technology, I had been on a power binge of gaming every night until two in the morning. It became an awful feeling, knowing that I should be getting to bed but being unable to step away. The addicting part of it was that I wanted to be the best at it but kept coming up short.

But hopefully that's all over now. I have a few buddies that I play with on occasion, and I'll save myself for those times.

But the good news is, I have something new to occupy my time. Of all things, it's my guitar.

I am taking lessons again. The beauty is that I'm already a pretty good player, and by that I mean a passable strummer on the acoustic with some ability to play leads. I'm solid but by no means flashy. If you asked me to play a song you would glaze over in thirty seconds. That's because I really don't know anything you would want to hear, and I've forgotten everything I used to know that would come close.

My intention was to learn songs that people like to hear, but songs that have a little pizzazz, something to make the guitar sound interesting. Oh, and songs that are within my singing range.

The guy I am learning from is a bluegrass guitarist, but he is purportedly one that can play any style. I asked him if he knew how to play Drive by Incubus (definitely out of my range), and he replied, "What by who?"

I'm thinking at this point that rumors of his diversity had been greatly exaggerated.

So I said, "I like country music as well." I didn't want to admit this because all I know are country songs, and I don't meet many that want to hear it. But I could see that it had pepped him up.

"Who do you like? Name a few artists."

Before I could stop myself I blurted, "George Strait and Alan Jackson."

He had his pencil poised over a notebook page, but he dropped both. "Ah, classic country—ok. Play me something you know."

Not to be sidetracked down the same old road, I snapped the capo on the fifth fret and said, "Have you heard of Death Cab for Cutie?"

"No," he said with a hint of disappointment.

I rattled off the intro to I Will Follow You into the Dark, which I had just finished learning the day before. As I'm playing he rifles through a stack of papers and puts one in front of me entitled Walk on Boy.

"Have you heard of Doc Watson?"

I told him that I had with a hint of resignation. Doc Watson was old school country.

"It's similar to what you just played." He put a CD into his computer. The first few strums from the speakers sounded so typically bluegrass that I almost refused, but then Doc Watson played a riff that arrested my speech. The shock was mild, but the guitar instructor saw it and played it back for me.

"That's awesome."

So now I can mostly rattle off that riff, the part that he transcribed for me. I've immersed myself in this song and am feeling that old feeling once again, the love for my guitar. My old friends remember this way, but this time I actually have some talent.

My next lesson is this Wednesday. I've got the solo down and am learning the nuances of the verses, which fly counter to how I normally strum. I'm wondering how the instructor will react when—and hopefully if—I play it just like the recording, even learning some of the parts he didn't transcribe for me. I'll settle for the parts he did for now.

In other news, I had a great idea for a novel. Unlike my previous ideas, it's clean and simple, easy to explain in a sentence or two. What has killed my previous efforts is the lack of a focused overall concept. This recent idea was inspired by a conversation I had with some friends over the weekend. When it struck, I told them about it, which was based on the story they just had told me about their relationship. When I told them the twist (there's always a catchy ending to my ideas, or they aren't worth my attention), they both loved it.

It needs a middle part.

But I'm working on it.


Sarah Hina said...

Wow--you've had a productive weekend! That's so cool that you're pursuing the guitar again. We should always make rooms in our lives for music. And I love that Death Cab for Cutie song. :) You should make a recording and post it on your blog someday...

Congrats on the new novel idea! That lightning-strike moment is always so exciting. Middles are tough, but I'm sure you'll find the right path to your ending. Good luck, Scott!!

Alan said...

Recording and post on blog. And that means full video, which oddly, is easier to do than audio, though it takes longer to upload.

But would truly and deeply like to see another dimension to whom I already think of as a renaissance man.

More power to creative people! We are the world's only redeemable feature!

Scott said...

Maybe I could do that with YouTube. We'll see. It's not that I'm shy but I am a perfectionist. It is something I've been wanting to do though. Thanks for the encouragement.

Toni Anderson said...

It sounds great, Scott. My daughter wants to learn the guitar :)

magnetbabe said...

The most important part of being a musician is seeing the common threads in all types of music. Being able to hear Doc Watson in the Death Cab for Cutie song is brilliant and with time you will get that knack too and be a more versatile musician for it. Keep it up! Chicks dig the guitar. ;)

Bridget Jones said...

Yahoo you've been busy. Congrats on getting into the guitar again, just don't go "El Cabong" with it!

Bridget Jones said...

Yahoo you've been busy. Congrats on getting into the guitar again, just don't go "El Cabong" with it!

Beth said...

Playing the guitar is part of my husband's soul. He's played almost every day since he was a boy and I'll gush, he's great at it, but I'M the one in the family who plays and sings at the same time. LOL I think playing instruments is such a way to just let it all out. Good for you, Scott. I got Trillian up and running and I think you can see me when I'm on so don't be a stranger.

Tera said...

I want badly to learn how to play the piano! I know the notes because I played the violin for 5 years, so what's to stop me from really learning??? You inspire me :)

Jada's Gigi said...

Sounds like a busy summer. I used to play guitar..a long, long time ago. :)

kathie said...

Ahhhh, the middle part. That's the tricky, sticky, mucky part. Great job coming up with something that makes you happy and feel its worth pursuing!! Great work with the guitar, too. That's tremendous.

The Zombieslayer said...

I must be getting old, because I've heard none of those songs.

Vesper said...

So you have obsessions other than writing... :-)
Sounds great! I wish I could play an instrument... any at all... :-)

I liked your story "Damned Carnival" very much; it has a very rich imagery. Was it in a printed version of the magazine also? Too bad this one has stopped appearing.
I too am masquerading as something else during work hours - that went straight to my heart. :-)

Dixie Belle said...

I'd love to play guitar.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

It's good that you are getting back into the guitar again. I haven't played properly for months. I bought the guitar on this trip but the pen is mightier than the axe right now.

You could try learning to play country with your guitar behind you head. Then set fire to it. I bet they haven't seen that at The Opry