The Joy Of Playing Music

guitar playerI first fell in love with music back in 69 or so when I was living in Portland trying to be a hippie. The affair started one day while I was getting stoned in some girls apartment and I heard an angels voice on the stereo. It was Joan Baez. At that moment I fell in love with her and as a result of her voice I fell in love with music also.

Up until then music was a good backdrop for whatever inanities I found myself doing, but I never really got into it much cause (maybe) in the 50’s projects you got your ass kicked for even thinking of being a musician. Well, I’m much older now, it’s winter and I’m starting to think about playing music again. This is something I’ve done off and on for the last forty years or so ever since I fell in love with Joan.

I have a music area in my library where the two (electric/acoustic) guitars live . . . and the cello . . . and the piano . . . alongside, let’s see, my rebuilt mandolin, two hand made American Indian flutes, a hammered dulcimer, a regular dulcimer, two sets of African bongo drums, a (no shit) digereedoo, a tin whistle, various little things like a kazoo, a jaw harp (the real harp I made I gave away . . . as well as my old fiddle)

Anyways you get the picture, I have lots of instruments on which to play music plus piles of books, sheet music etc. to compliment them. If you were to walk into my library and look around you’d swear I was a damn virtuoso, or a one man band.

Well, I’m a one man band house building machine, but as a musician I suck. I have little natural talent, a voice like a fog horn and I hate to practice. “Forget about Mary Had a Little Lamb. I’ll start out with the Jimi Hendrix version of the Star Spangled banner thank you.”

So, forty years later, I still grab and beat up my guitar the same old way running everybody out of the house with the same old worn out bad-to-begin-with melody following an equally bad out-of-sync base line. Then one day, not long ago . . . I fell in love once again.

It all started at the flea market where I used to peddle my access wood. I walked over to the table of a guy who was setting up late. He was not a regular, had just cleaned out his garage and was gonna sell the stuff he didn’t want. Leaning up against his pickup was an old guitar case. Knowing by the looks of it that it wasn’t one of those Chinese cheapies I asked, “Can I see the guitar”?

“Sure” said he.

He lay the case on the table and opened it up to reveal a lovely little folk guitar that had been made by Fender sometime in the early sixties. He was the original owner. After a bit of small talk I bargained him down to about 100.00 U.S. The remainder of the day I pedaled wood while anticipating the time I could take off to lick and tickle my new love in the privacy of our own home.

Last year I listened to a guy on Utube named Pierre Bensusan teaching and playing his guitar in an alternate tuning called DADGAD. Wow! I grabbed the old folk guitar messed around a bit trying to re tune it till I finally got out my tuner (cause I’m tone deaf) and did it right.

One brush over the strings and I was hooked. It was like playing a dulcimer, kinda mountainy and mysterious. The first (base string) played open can be a drone to a treble melody. . . and it’s all easy as hell, an absolute necessity for me cause I get bored real quick. Later you can improvise to your hearts content using chords, melody lines etc. . . . anything you can do in EADGBE you can do in DADGAD if you play alone like I do.

If you have a guitar and your intercourse is getting boring, give her a different tone and she may just perk up and play you a lively Irish jig . . . or go all soft and mysterious like a deep forest rain. . . all dank, wet, and dripping.

If your heart is strong give DADGAD a try.

I would advise everybody to pick up an instrument, learn to play it . . . and RELAX. This following short video proves my point . . .

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