On Guitars (with a LOT of links!)

I don't really talk about it much in this blog, but I love playing guitar.  It's a fun, relaxing thing to do on a chilly october afternoon, and there are few things more rewarding than sitting on your couch and writing a song.  Really, we're all defined by our interests - whether it's crafting, writing, dressing up as an elf and pretending to cast spells at fat people in a school soccer yard, or full contact feng shui.   

Learning the guitar has been one of the most rewarding things in my entire life.  In fact, just yesterday, I found myself writing a song that was, as I described it at the time, "Really fucking awesome".  As I sat there with a notepad on my lap, ready to write lyrics for a song that was - no joke - good enough to be on a CD, I realized just how close I had been to missing out on all this.  I wound up playing the guitar as a fluke... a happy accident. 

I first picked up a guitar in the second year of high school, and I did it for two reasons that, at least on the surface, had absolutely nothing to do with the guitar:
  1. I wanted to learn how to play the drums
  2. I had a crush on a girl
I know.  It makes no sense.  But allow me to explain:

First, about six months before I picked up a guitar for the first time, I really started getting into music - the drums in particular.  I am still something of a drum fanatic, and when a drummer plays with skill, I am entranced.  My jaw goes slack, and I space out as intricate rhythms are hammered into my skull.  When I listen to Jimi Hendrix, I'm really listening to Mitch Mitchell.  When I listen to Led Zeppelin, it's all about John Bonham.  And the only reason to listen to The Who is Keith Moon - this is scientific fact.  And yes, I know all three of those drummers are now dead.  When I found out Mitch Mitchell had died, I let out this long sigh, as if an era was no more.  Like how John Hughes must have felt at the end of the 1980s. 

Anyways, in the tenth grade, I wasn't listening to - y'know, good bands -  but rather to the drummer from a canadian band by the name of Our Lady Peace.  For some reason, I couldn't get his drum beats out of my head, even though, looking back, they are a little simplistic.  On a whim, which is how I made decisions in the tenth grade, I decided I wanted to be a drummer.

Turns out there were a lot of people in my high school that wanted to be drummers, which probably had something to do with unchecked hormones, aggression, and the abundance of sticks and dead animal skins in rural B.C.  I was told by the music teacher that there was no room for me in the band program, but if I wanted to learn the drums, learning the guitar might be a good way to start.  After all, one instrument is much like another, right?

This made no sense at all to me.  It'd be like saying "You want to learn how to rap?  Learn to knit, first!"  Or like trying to learn karate by waxing some japanese guy's car.  Because I was in tenth grade and, therefore, knew everything, I may have said something to this effect to the teacher and walked out of his class.  And my guitar "career" may have died then and there, were it not for part two.

See, like most boys twelve years and older, I was absolutely in love with women.  And by "was", I mean "am".  And by "am", I really mean "wholly and irrevocably dedicated to observing their every move".  Of course, being a shy, nerdy, ginger kid, I didn't really have much in the way of confidence.  So I'd talk to these girls - shyly, of course - and worm my way in, hoping one day that I could get close enough to sort of become their boyfriend without their realizing what I had done.

In short, I was Ducky from Pretty In Pink.   

Imagine this scenario:  there is a girl that young Dave has a crush on.  Young Dave has liked this girl for at least a year, if not more, but he is too much of a wuss to do anything about it.  Young Dave, in fact, has no idea how to even initiate or approach the situation.  Like the underwear gnomes in South Park, Dave knows what phase one is, and knows that phase three is a good thing, but has no idea what the hell phase two is, or how to get there. 

Then, Young Dave's crush decides she wants to take guitar classes.  Young Dave had already been considering taking the classes, and now there's one more chance to be around this girl that Young Dave is stalking hopelessly devoted to interested in. 

Young Dave started taking guitar classes, spending hte first few weeks splitting time between making moon eyes at his crush, and the drum set in the corner of the room.  The few times he paid attention to the guitar, it was to make fun of an instrument that had - and I kid you not - a "G-String".  However, by the time Young Dave had (mostly) forgotten about that drum set in the corner, and his cute young crush had decided that maybe guitar wasn't the thing for her, Young Dave was busy learning about just how awesome an e minor chord can be. 

And that, dear friends, is how Young Dave wound up learning the guitar.  It is also what lead to Young Dave asking out said crush, and getting hilariously rejected.  And, later, it would lead to Young Dave realizing just how shitty a band Green Day is.  And from there, it would lead to Young Dave writing awful song lyrics, working as a music reporter for a local magazine, and Young Dave learning about just how bloody expensive a hobby music really is.

Eventually, it would lead to Dave picking up the guitar at around noon yesterday and writing a song that sounded "really fucking awesome", with Dave playing it for the better part of an hour and even beginning to write lyrics before he realized he had just written The Cold War Kids' "Robbers". 


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