while my guitar gently leans

If I’d had good discipline , I might have gone into music .

——Clint Eastwood

There was a time when I thought I’d learn guitar .

At some point I went over to  McCabe’s Guitar Shop and paid $250 for a pretty good guitar . Two hundred and fifty dollars in those days , remember , was like nine million dollars today .  I fooled around with it , learned a few chords from friends . I asked my friend Joe to give me a few lessons . Joe tried to explain how guitar chords were mathematical , he explained  harmonies , chords , what notes have to do with it , and  blues progressions . I tried to comprehend it all , see the sense of the dynamics of stringed instruments , tried to learn a few more chords , to manage and massage  the strings , determine frets ,  play a few simple songs .guitar playing woman

Joe politely told me , after a few frustrating lessons , that maybe I should stick to wind instruments . Joe had brought the hammer down , struck the gavel and pronounced judgement . And , I knew even then and since then ,  Joe was probably right .

I picked up my flute again and toodled . I bought a used clarinet and learned , a little , how to play without exhaling so much  air that I’d pass out , although Benny Goodman I definitely wasn’t . I even  bought a used saxophone but quickly sold it to a friend .   I put the guitar away for the time being , sat back down at the drawing board , reassessed my stringed thing potential , brooded .  It was as if the music God had said , ” Dan , there’s only one thing I don’t want you to do . Don’t try to learn to play guitar   ”  like it was  the forbidden fruit .

So , inevitably , the guitar challenge worked on my mind , needled me , nagged me .  There the long-necked thing  was , after all , right there in the room , leaning against the wall , taunting me , that great guitar ,  tempting me to try again  .

Probably months later , after the lessons , I bought the Easy Way To Learn Guitar  books and got psychologically ready to try again . I eased in to it .  Paced myself . I practiced chords . I had problems stringing the chords together . I couldn’t make sense of the guitar , still . I tried .  But , week by week , month by month , no breakthrough , no encouraging riffs were ever heard from my apartment .

You just pick up a chord , go twang , and you’ve got music .

——Sid Vicious

I was reading a post called Monday Memories and Music from a fellow blogger who was in a little bit of the same boat as I was in with a guitar , but she with a piano .  She was at the  book buying stage . Her post prompted this one . Brought back old memories .  

Learning music by reading about  it is like making love by mail .

——–Luciano Pavorotti

Writing about music  is like dancing about architecture .

——-Martin Mull

Years later I took another stab at learning the guitar .   I thought that I gave it a good shot and , once again , got not very far .  Meanwhile I was getting mildly interested in photography . One of my sisters had a nice camera . She seemed to be playing the same game with a camera as I was playing ( pardon the presumptuous expression ! )  with the guitar .  So we agreed to a swap , camera for guitar .  She was working at the time in Florida . If the camera didn’t work out for me , or the guitar didn’t work out for her , we agreed that we would swap back .

When that time came that I thought , once again , that I should take up the steel stringed thing again for another try , I called her to suggest a re-swap .   But , it was not going to happen . The guitar had moved on . A boyfriend had taken  it with him to Chicago ,  she said .  And the boyfriend never came back , as it happened . That’s the way thing go sometimes .

I have a borrowed guitar , as I am writing this post .  It is  leaning against the lawyers’ bookcase in the back bedroom . Near it , on the writing table , are the  Learn To Play Guitar  books , good ones , and an electronic tuning device . I tried . Believe me , I tried . Once again . The plan was to , finally , learn the instrument well enough this time to encourage me to , once again , go out and buy a good guitar .

But , I may have to admit that Joe was right all those years ago .  The only reason that I haven’t returned the guitar to my generous friend is that I hate to give in once again , to give up my guitar playing ambitions  , to capitulate again , to drop again ( temporarily ? ) my recurring guitar-playing dream , to again throw in the towel 

Most people live and die with their music still unplayed . They never dare to try .

——-Mary Kay Ash

Oh , I’ll try again . There’s no rush , after all , is there ?  I’ll rest up a bit for the next bout .

Where words fail  music speaks .

—-Hans Christian Andersen

To all you striving musicians , piano players , guitarists , banjo pickers , tuba tooters , accordianists ,  and yodelers : Keep the dream alive ! Music rocks ! Otherwise , all is lost .

This land is your land , and this land is my land , sure , but the world is run by those that never listen to music anyway.

—-Bob Dylan

bob dylan

One more quote that may apply :

He has Van Gogh’s ear for music .

—-Billy Wilder


Filed under humor

14 responses to “while my guitar gently leans

  1. I have a similar story – bought an expensive-ish guitar, tried it, lent it, got it back… I taught myself how to… well, I suppose the word “play” isn’t completely accurate… how to form some chords and strum the strings and piddle around on the guitar. How’s that?

    A year ago, as I was packing up house to move north, I gave it away for the last time – the young woman who has it now sent me a recording of her first song. The guitar is in a better place.

  2. Did we all try to learn guitar at some point? I remember walking to my lessons when I was young. I think all I remember today is the C chord! haha – so you see how far I got!! 🙂

  3. I tried early, Dan but never tried again. First attempt resulted in dismal failure. You keep at it. If nothing else you might give me a vicarious triumph someday. Great quotes. Sadly, Dylan’s may be too true.

  4. I can dance, but I can’t play the music I dance to… try as I did. My brother, on the other hand, has taken up the guitar in his 60s and is doing quite well. I guess I’ll leave it to those with talent.

    • Well , I should take your brother as a sample of what can be done . Dancing isn’t one of my talents , either , although I like it sometimes . Hey , maybe I have no talents . Uh oh .

  5. Not a very good teacher, that Joe cat. Now, that scene in Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments, where Joey ‘the lips’ Fagan explains why he named his trumpet ‘Gina.’ He’s trying to teach the sax player how to mouth the reed properly. You need to name for your guitar. Then, all you need to do is treat her right.

    • My guitar , though , is long gone . I have one borrowed from my English friend Willie , on a temporary/permanent basis . I shouldn’t cozy up to that one , I suppose , in case she/it goes back to Willie at some point .

      • Next time yr up, I’ll send you back with a good ole trusty guitar. One thing about the guitar is, don’t be discouraged when somebody asks you to play a rock song that requires 10 tons of sound equipment to make happen. You can play beautifully, right now; you just have to learn to listen.

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