Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tell Me About The Good Old Days

I'm pretty excited about the new guitar I just bought. My wife and I have decided to not spend any money that we don't have, and definitely not on frivolous things such as toys. So I sold my motorcycle that I haven't ridden since Jackson was born. I called a local mechanic so that I could get the bike back in running condition since the throttle was sticking and it was leaking gas. When I told him what kind of bike it was, and that it was in otherwise mint condition with less than 10K miles on the engine, he decided to buy it himself.

We made a deal after some haggling back and forth, something I totally suck at by the way, but in the end I think I got a pretty good price for it. So my with my wallet loaded, I decided that this money was all mine. It wasn't for paying the bills or doing something really responsible like an adult would treat it. Nope. For the first time since I was a bachelor, I was going shopping for boy toys. There was also a sentimental aspect to this train of thought. Although I didn't ride that motorcycle anymore, which I gave up because I wanted my children to have a father when they reached puberty, I still loved that bike. I know it sounds corny, but that bike was my buddy. We toured California together. Down highway 1 from San Francisco to LA, to Palm Desert, Sequoia National Park, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite. We learned the streets of San Francisco together and took in the breathtaking views from Twin Peaks and the overlook across the Golden Gate and into the wetlands beyond.

When I signed over the title to the mechanic, I took what I knew was going to be my last look at the bike. He patted me on the shoulder because he just knew.

So I have to respect how I spend every cent of the money I sold her for.

I've been a big fan of Brent Mason, who is a Nashville session guitarist. You can pretty much hear him on any album recorded by any country artist in the 90's. His sound defies imitation, and I had long since given up even trying. But of late I've been seeing YouTube videos here and there of guitarists that play a style called "chicken pickin'" which is Brent's style as well. YouTube is an incredible source of guitar lessons, and there are resources that enable you to copy a YouTube video locally to your computer, and free software that will scrape the audio from a video into an mp3 file. On top of that, there is software such as The Amazing Slow Downer that will slow down a recording without altering the pitch, meaning it plays just like the recording only slower, just as if the artist was playing it slower for you. It really is as advertised: totally amazing.

I noticed that almost all the chicken pickers have Telecaster guitars. I asked my guitar instructor why that is, and he pulled his out and let me play it, telling me that you just get more pop and bend out of the strings than you get with a Stratocaster, which I already have. So, long story short, I spend seven hundred dollars of my motorcycle money on a new Tele, and I totally love it.

Ninety more went to Mr. Doug Seven. He's a Brent Mason enthusiast and he publishes videos on how to play in that style. I'm on disk 1 of four working on riff one of around nine. It's insanely fast.

Ok, so the point of all this. It all goes back to the early days of life when my Grandma Rose would listen to me sing along with the radio. She asked me to make a cassette tape for her so she could listen to me some more, and I always told her I would. Now I'm 45 and still haven't done it. So I spent two hundred more dollars on a Tascam recorder that will facilitate the recording of my guitar and voice and whatever else into the computer. I have to figure that out still, but I've got everything I need now to make it happen.

The only question left was which song to start with. I've decided on the Judds song called Grandpa Tell Me about the Good Old Days or some variation of that title. I'm going to change Grandpa to Grandma and give it a go. A long time ago I tried to figure out what the guitarist was doing with the main riff, but it was beyond me. Picking around with it yesterday, suddenly I know exactly what he is doing. It's really such a pretty sounding song. If you've never heard it before, look it up. If you've ever thought that life was simpler in your Grandparents' day, when families stuck together through good times and bad, and a man's word and a handshake was all the assurance you needed, then this song will resonate with you.