Shhhhh, I am going to whisper gently into your ear, you can feel my breath on the lobe and in the inner workings of your aural senses. Stop. No, keep going. What am I saying? I am telling you secrets; secrets about the guitar. What is a guitar? Really, what is it? It is wood that has been, most likely, carelessly harvested from some place that you will never visit because the stench of the massacre lies heavy in the air. The nickel for the strings is mined from some place that has the same ring as the wood did, the muscled sweating bodies of foreign men lean with the burden of their work. Bare breasted women, skin like satin, dripping with their own sugar-like thoughts of the better life for their suckling child. Real tortoise shell doesn’t exist anymore. Ivory is illegal. Guitar is a dinosaur, a lute that is losing its ground, a violin with a horn on it, a mastodon, a dodo.
How does someone play the guitar? As much as possible, that is the only answer. When is the best time to start? Yesterday or twenty years ago is the answer.
The guitar lumbers under its own weight of lofty legends and bullshit conjured up by record labels aimed at selling you, the consumer, more and more product. Here is a guitar and what it means, here is what rock and roll music means – love and community. There is only one secret to killing the dragon that was sickened upon the poor innocent little thing that the guitar is, and that secret is loving people. There is nothing worse than a guitarist. Does that make sense? A guitarist cares nothing for music. They care about the guitar, about themselves, about everything else except the things that are important. People. The guitar is only a medium in which to speak, the same way that Babe Ruth spoke through his bat, the same way that Kids in the Hall spoke to my identity, the same way that a Tom Thompson painting is like looking through his eyes at that moment in time, the way that Salvidor Dali is like looking at the world through the lens of genius, the way that reading a Bukowski or T.S Eliot poem speaks.
I sound jaded ( at least to myself). I am not. I feel the same way as I did when I was young about the guitar, it is a means to connect with other people, the guitar is my means of communication with a world that I cannot possibly understand. I am consoled by the fact that I am not in control of anything and I am reminded of that fact by how little I know about my craft. I loved that line from Nirvana, and it still rings true for me today, “ I am worst at what I do best.”
Here is the secret to playing guitar, play it. Play it a lot. Don’t give a rat ass what people think, and the reason for that lack of caring is that usually people are just as confused, or more confused, about life than you are. I discovered this this year. I said hello to this group of people, they may of may not have been hipper than me, but they said not one word to me, nothing; I got a glance from the end girl in the line and I realized that I saw fear in her eyes. This whole time I thought they hated me, not hate; fear. So I connect with them with a guitar, to say hello I am here; just like we all need to. Play those spoons. Pick up a paintbrush and become a connection. Pick up a book and read to a kid, become a guitarist. Sing a song to a dying person. Change a diaper. Put yourself in awkward positions, socially – then you’re a guitarist, that’s how the game is played.
I love all of you so much,