I’m in grave danger of missing one this weekend…
I’m referring to my challenge to write a blog every day for 30 days. I’m at two weeks in right now. Two weeks! That’s a whole fortnight in proper English.
Thing is, it got complicated earlier in the week when my iMac went belly up for a few days and by the time I got a substitute working for me to do the work on the current book satisfactorily I was a day or so behind. I have a friend coming into town tomorrow and we’re going to see another friend perform locally and I have lots of recording to do. Here’s a link to my musician friend’s website (The Quitters – click here) and I imagine if you follow the links you’ll find where they’re playing – and I may be doing a little live reading with them as well.
Anyway, earlier this week I found myself wondering about the purpose of these blogs outside of entertaining you, my website visitors, and the initial ‘challenge’.
Well, here’s the poor excuse I came up with: What if, by the time I get to the point of writing my autobiography (I know I haven’t yet done anything worthy of one but I have, I hope, at least 30 more years ahead of me filled with amazing achievements), what if by then I’ve forgotten everything…?
So, I’m going to unashamedly wallow in nostalgia on occasion and talk about experiences from my past (like yesterday, when I showed the clip of my appearance in the local newspaper) so that the material is all here for me to use as a source. Yup. That’ll work.
For my subject today, since I’m looking forward to an entertaining evening of guitar music tomorrow: My history with guitars!
It’s common knowledge in my family that I discovered The Beatles… Well, that’s what my mother believes. Certainly The Beatles were my heroes from the age of seven. And they played guitars…oooh. I could do that. Except that I couldn’t because I didn’t have a guitar.
I pleaded and begged my parents for an electric guitar. As I approached my thirteenth birthday it appeared my desires were to be met – and by then I had a host of other influences beyond The Beatles including Eric Clapton, who played that dream machine: a Gibson Les Paul!
I needed an electric guitar.
Sure enough for my thirteenth birthday my parents gave me…
a nylon string acoustic.
Oh. I mean, I get it. It was the sensible thing for my parents to do. But have you ever tried to deafen anyone with an acoustic guitar? Doesn’t work. It was a bit of a wet blanket – though I remember shortly after, going to a friend’s house (he had a real drum kit, and another friend could play the piano) where I tried to amplify it through a tape recorder microphone… or some such. I’m sorry, but it was such a downer for my rock hero hopes.
A couple of years later I did purchase a school friend’s apparently home made electric guitar (it’s neck was so bent!). It came with a terrible tube amp. But I was so excited by it and it served me well (or really badly depending on your opinion of my playing) for a few years until I eventually sold the amp to a friend at university who later accused me of trying to electrocute him.
It was after I graduated in 1979, just before my father died, that I invested in a ‘real’ guitar. A second hand black body Antoria Les Paul copy. It has a serial number which suggests it was made in April of 1976 (they’re actually quite well thought of these early Japanese-made copies). I loved, and still love, that guitar. I was driving buses at the time (just for a few months) and I had all the time in the world, and would sit in my flat in Leeds practising for hours. Had a band with a few friends (never played in public) and I wrote a few songs. I’d put the guitar on a chair where I could see it from my bed at night… I was seriously in love.
I bought another non-descript one a year or so later but then part exchanged that for an acoustic that I still have. And that was it for about 25 years.
Oh, I forgot to mention I never became very proficient as a guitar player. Most of the time I’d just use it as the mood took me – mostly twelve-bar blues. But I always promised myself that if I devoted more time to practice, such that I deserved the investment, I’d buy a real Gibson Les Paul. The kind Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton and Paul Kossoff used to play. Even if most guitar players by then, including Eric, had switched to the Fender Stratocaster. I so wanted a Gibson. But… I found I never actually spent enough time to become as proficient as I judged I needed to be. I had put too high a bar in place and I was aware I was unlikely ever to see a Gibson in my hands. So, as I approached 60 years of age… I lowered the bar.
I figured perhaps if I actually bought a Gibson I’d then be inspired to spend more time practising. It’s the kind of argument politicians use all the time.
So, voila! I bought a 2015 American Standard Gibson Les Paul… my dream made reality!
And then I bought a Fender Telecaster. And then I bought a Fender Stratocaster. Oh, and I’d bought a Fender Jazz Bass a year or two before these. Did I mention the Fender HSS Strat my wife and sons bought me even before that? And even then my wife bought me a Martin acoustic for Christmas.
And then she put her foot down (ever so gently, but I think I knew I’d pushed things a little bit far by then anyway).
I have a wall full of guitars which I love.
And I’m still not good enough to play in public.
But I’m a very content guitar owner and every so often I’ll pull down the Gibson and crank up the amp and hit the first few chords of All Right Now (Free)…. But just the first few chords.
I’ll learn the rest of the song when I have the time.