Monday, December 17, 2007

limbo; bad guitar playing

In a state of "inbetween"-ness, as one friend used to spell it (Canadianly?). The book is out, tho I have little idea of how it's "doing" – commercially, that is, it being far too early for sales statements from my publisher; on the other hand, a few very gratifying emails from readers out there – mostly friends – and a scattering of blogosphere responses. Don Share, God bless him, is at least halfway thru, & thus far has said nothing but nice things: "spellbinding"... "a book so good I'm anxious about what the heck I'm going to read when I finish it!" Blurb fodder, on the off chance this thing makes it into paperback.
I've largely recovered from the hangover attendant on Saturday night's book release party – for me, a drunken, rather melancholy affair, as these years I find most parties, even the ones I'm hosting. Too many people I wanted to see not in attendance, too much mother-hen-like worrying over whether everyone's having a "good time." Many musical instruments about, to little avail: the sad truth is that for my part I can't remember more than half a verse of any given song once I've gotten a couple drinks into me, & my fingers turn into fumbling bratwursts on the fretboard. The detached space reggae of the Mekons' "I'm Not There (1967)" ringing in my head all weekend:
A velvet glove strokes a hairy thigh
Day is breaking against the sky
My mind is purple...
Like the bubbles on your lips
Ooh baby I groove the way
You move your hips...
A colleague's 15-year-old son, enticed by the promise of music-making, had brought his gear along, & we tried to see if we had any common musical ground. Alas, apart from the inevitable 15 minutes of 12-bar blues in A, such was not to be found. Few things make me feel older than being in company of a "shredder," as these young folks refer to a player who's able to rip thru the Metallica catalogue with fleet fingers.

Hazy as I was, I recognized that our guitar-Bildungs (Guitarrebildungen?) were fundamentally different, that there's been a sea change in the way one learns to play rock guitar in the past couple decades. I learned chords, open & barre, & only then progressed to scales & riffs. (One could probably fake 80% of the corpus of pre-1980 pop music if one knew the old I-IV-V-VIm progression.) Alan, on the other hand, thinks in terms of lines, of melodic patterns, of the dit-dit-diddle-dit-dits that underpin the fast metal he listens to. I can't wrap my head, or my fingers, around it – & won't ever be able, I'm afraid, to play "Master of Puppets" or Tool's "Schism."

(But then again, as one friend remarks, a 15-year-old brings an intensity of practice time to these things that isn't really available to those of us with jobs & such. I do have every intention of blocking out some time over the break to draw and paint, pursuits which don't plunge me into quite the despair that music-making usually does.)

1 comment:

Emily said...

Mark -- sorry we had to miss your party (as you know, we were a bit busy).

Not that my own musical abilities would really have contributed -- if I'm drinking I tend to play and sing showtunes badly (and only when I'm drunk do I do that). If I'm not drinking it's almost entirely baroque music these days.

Or Christmas carols, since that's seasonal.