The Frustrations of a wannabe--

Tell us about yourself and your involvement with music at as much length as you like. I've spent most of my life trying to escape a music addiction that keeps drawing me back in. Now it's happening again.

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The Frustrations of a wannabe--

Postby JBnID » Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:56 pm

I appreciate the invite to the board through another discussion so far away as to be on another planet, but kindred hearts beat together. Maybe that's the source of my frustrations. I have the same amount of natural rhythm as a hail storm and anything I tap or bang on is likely to sound like hard hail on a tin roof.

I grew up with old C&W and had an uncle with tons of talent, true pitch, and a gift of mimic that made him sit at the piano and play anything he'd ever heard in about three tries. He sang Hank Williams and played guitar and could crow like a rooster so good the real rooster would answer him. I took band in the fifth and sixth grade and never had a clue what I was doing.

In the early '70s, I was a deputy sheriff in the South and the radio was always on WWL in New Orleans. I love music I can hear and understand the lyrics to and that is only old C&W by just a few performers. My record collection was 90% instrumental. During that time Roy Clark recorded Ghost Riders in the Sky. I decided to learn enough guitar to play that one song.

I got my first guitar for my 35th birthday. It was also the first one I'd ever picked up. I was a professional gun and knife maker with fingers like cables covered with leather and that #*@&% guitar shredded them in an hour. I had a friend near New Orleans that was a guitar player but I didn't know it until I said something about a miserable guitar I was trying to learn. About 99% of my friends are shooters and gunmakers. We never shared other interest much. When I told him I was done with trying to get anything but pain from that guitar and an F chord was impossible for anything short of Vice Grips he said everybody went through that stage, keep trying. He was a smart guy with small hands if he can play, I can too! The Ghost Riders were staying on the ground and hidden. THREE months I was tortured by that oriental imitation of a cheap copy of something not worth owning! By buddy from NO came out to the mountains of Colorado to visit and when he saw the guitar he said we were going to the pawn shop on the morrow. That was 150 miles of driving but I came home with a Yamaha and nearly broke it not knowing the strings were already'd that happen? Wow! I can mash two at a time! THREE OR FOUR!!

I have a stainless steel cannon that shoots golf balls about a half a mile. I killed my first guitar with it. The Ghost Riders still didn't come out to fly no matter how hard I tried, but "I'm so Lonesome I could Cry" and "Wayfaring Stranger" was recognizable if I told the title as a clue. I was frustrated because the Ghost Riders were no where close.

My buddy in New Orleans started buying old, good guitars for me to repair and sell or keep, my choice. A broke-necked Les Paul and an old Gretsch Super Axe with its chittlins in a box came my way at one time. I gave the Les Paul to a friend for Christmas but kept the Super Axe. I had a Marauder stolen from my broken down car in Vail Pass and I traded the Yamaha on an outrageously beautiful old Yari-Alverez six string Model 5070 that I dearly loved....but it was as dumb as the rest. I figured I'd have to go to Nashville to buy a guitar with some innate sense about it. Everything I picked up sounded like something mad and confused.
I loaned the Yari to a dear friend who then committed suicide. It's gone. My buddy in New Orleans died and the Ghost Riders I was calling with all my energy were nowhere around. I quit for 10 years but still had an old 12 string Guild and the Super Axe in the closet. When I tried to sell them, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry came from the 12 string without me calling it. Shazam!!! What's this? How'd that happen? The guitar felt good vibrating my ribs.

I had moved to Idaho and was the caretaker of a very remote hotsprings without power and 22 miles of 4x4 road to the pavement. The canyon walls made an interesting sound as I tried SO hard to play something identifiable. No such luck, but I did catch the Roy Clark show three times in tiny Jackpot, Nevada. On the third time, he autographed my old buddy Frank's Gibson 335 and at my request, demonstrated to me that the guitar DID know how to play Ghost Riders in the Sky, it just wouldn't do it for me. I gave it to a good friend in Denver shortly after that. It likes him, too. It'll play most anything for him....

I fear several things have come together in me that makes music a spectator sport. There is no song that I can hear and get the key. I've never been successful and hearing and copying anything and that includes slow motion youtube. I can't count time or keep it or know what it is, but some songs sound better than others. I'm not as bad as U.S. Grant who was said to be so tone deaf he only knew two songs, "One is Yankee Doodle and the other one isn't."

I've never failed a hearing test....or taken an honest one. I can hear most of the low stuff and by the time they get in my deaf range, I've got the body language figured out and could raise my finger at the right times.
I've been a shooter since age 5 and had probably shot more by the time I got in the Army that soldiers shot in the Army. Then I was a marksmanship instructor, machine gunner and grenade range worker for a year and a half. They issue me ear plugs the month before I got out. I still have them. Both ears have had ruptured eardrums and multiple infections from scuba diving for artifacts in rivers and skinny dipping in farm ponds so what I hear sounds like cats fighting in a garbage can if the volume is too loud, but I can't hear anything unless it's real loud....I understand maybe one percent of anything said by a kid, 20% for women and haven't owned a TV in 15 years. No radios either, but its great fun to go to youtube and catch old songs

I have four guitars that show flashes of brilliance about once every five years....when somebody else plays them. Last year, I had a finger condition that absolutely precluded even flipping the case latches and none were touched for a little more than a year. The Kouso Yairi DY-80 12 string is within arms reach right now and gets 'played' just about every night, but no songs come out unless something just somehow sneaks out bits at a time. I know enough chords to play anything in the last hundred years, but absolutely no clue when they should be used, in what order or how many of 'em. Songs that I learned and played for five years every night, are now gone and I can't even figure it out by going to youtube to see it played. Its just frustrating!!

My guitar playing, after 34 years of trying is much like a guy fishing in the pot hole in the county road: He's just there for his own entertainment.

Mike McCarthy
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Re: The Frustrations of a wannabe--

Postby Mike McCarthy » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:50 pm

I take no credit for having been born with music genes, only for developing the talent as far as I could, which was not far enough to turn studio guy, which was all that I cared about.

That said, by the time I was pressed into gigging with Werman's Columbia frat party band in the fall of 63 that he was managing, even though I had quit playing three years earlier I could still play any song in any style in any key. Again, I take no credit for this -- it's simply part of the music genes package that ultimately led to the creation of the website we're having fun with here.

In your book, Jack, you mentioned having a feel for how machines work, and you said that you thought it must be much the same with people who have musical talent. I think you're right. You were born with gunsmith talent, but it was of not much use till you developed it to your full potential. Your equivalent of "any song, any style, any key" would be "any gun, any make, any model, I know how it HAS to be working".

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Re: The Frustrations of a wannabe--

Postby BlueStrat » Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:22 pm

I empathize on how frustrating it can be when first taking up a guitar, or ANY instrument for that matter! Two of my sons happen to be "virtuosos" on guitar, so I figured, "Hey, if it's so easy even my two boys can play like that after only two lessons, why not give it a go". So one birthday a few years ago, my wife said "why don't you go to Daddy's Junky Music store and pick out a gift for yourself, so you can get it out of your system". Well, I didn't want to involve the boys, so I went on my own. I had seen the guitars around my sons' homes, so I kinda had an idea of what to look for. But I didn't want to dish out the kind of dough that they did, especially IF the guitar might be with me for only a few months! So, I swallowed my pride and asked the sales guy what acoustic would be good for a novice. He showed me a few Japanese models, and some other imports. Taking them down off the wall, he directed me to the "sound room" where I could go in, shut the door and pretend I was playing some tunes, when the ONLY chord I knew was a simple 12 bar blues riff. Then suddenly, I spotted this beautiful deep mahogany Washburn, not quite a Dreadnaught but a fairly large instrument non the less. I slid it over my shoulder, and started my 12 bar blues. It was instant love, the sound was SO mellow and deep it almost put me to sleep. The price was in the right ballpark, something like $325 if I recall correctly, and to "sweeten the deal, they even threw in a genuine simulated leather (cardboard) carrying case, a canvas strap, and FIVE picks of my choosing!

After about four years of an "off and on" affair with this mahogany beauty, the love began to cool. So, one fine day,(another birthday no less) I packed up my Washburn and headed for the music shop again. This time, I had done a bit more research, and sort of knew what I would be looking for. I knew it had to be a single cut-away, electric-acoustic, and preferably Fishman electronics. After perusing the walls for a half-hour or so, I spotted this gorgeous flame-grained Caribbean sea blue cut-away. When the salesman brought it down, I saw that it was an Ibanez #AEF-30, with Fishman Electronics, a mahogany fretboard, electric-acoustic with quarter inch AND heavy duty amp connections. If the Washburn was "love at first sight", this one was more of a "I want this little "Seducer" no matter HOW much she costs!" So I took it into the sound room, and by this time, in addition to my Blues Riffs, I had learned to play the D, G, F, and E chords ! (problem being I had difficulty stringing them together because of my "short" fingers!) so I did the best I could, but it didn't really matter what it sounded like, "I had fallen for a pretty face", and she was going to be mine, no matter what. Years later, I've added a blue Strat to my collection and a full set of Lee Oskar & Hohner Harmonicas in every key. If I was to be totally honest, I do much-much better with the Harps than the guitars. I have never played the guitars in public (and never will), but have sat in with my son's band "Mass-Confusion" playing harp on a few songs.

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