Feb 4, 2010

On the Restorative Properties of Guitar Playing

The Ovation 6-string guitar on the left has been a fixture in my musical arsenal for over two decades. My wife bought me the beautiful instrument in my younger years, back when dreams of making a career at music had not yet been beaten out of me by the harsh realities of life.

OK, that last line was a bit hyperbolic. If anything, I simply gave up on the idea that a person could eke out a comfortable living playing music, especially in this age of music emphasizing digital sampling and synthesizers.

A recent post about guitars on a local message board reminded me that it had been months since I picked up a guitar, much less my old friend the Ovation. Over the course of the last few days I played a little bit, finding out quickly how much I miss those callouses at the tips of my fingers.

I strummed through some chord progressions and simple riffs, intrigued that so much of music becomes instinctual. I belted out a few of my old standbys, much to the dismay of my dogs, though their tails wagged when I changed the lyrics to reflect their names: "Eddie, Eddie....Eddie Eddie EDDIE!"

I never made much money as a musician, probably less than two thousand dollars even including the times I busked for change. The future probably holds little promise for me as a musician, either, but this is irrelevant: I never approached music as a money-making scheme.

It was just for the joy and pleasure of creating a sound no one had ever before produced.

Somewhere on a dusty shelf in my basement are a few tapes of original compositions I created in my four-track studio in the 1980s (I sold the four-track recorder and much of my gear a decade ago in a period of poverty). Yet I am in no rush to dig up and digitize the music on those tapes for the simple reason that they are artifacts, snapshots from my past that bear little relation to the person I am today.

As I strummed this evening I created a half-dozen snippets of songs that I may never duplicate, and that is just fine. One of the pleasures of making music is that no two takes are identical, and at any moment a person can be on the verge of creating musical transcendence, sounds that can heal and touch and feel.

And if I am the only one who ever hears them, that is fine, too.


HeatherLynn said...

Gorgeous Guitar! I mean, seriously.

I too have beauty's in my arsenal of guitars...and I desperately miss those callouses at the tips of my fingers....I think I'll play this weekend....as we are getting this big ole snow storm supposedly, so what better to do to pass the snowflake filled hours, than strum something pretty for my dog....who has taken up a personal love for Garth Brooks tunes....he's an odd pooch....I know. :)

Anyway, like the blog...I accidently found you by looking for high temperature statistics on a google search...it turned YOU up...

not a bad find.


HeatherLynn said...

Oh, just so you can see i'm not a crazed stranger you need to be leery of: www.hoscorners.blogspot.com

so you can rule that out. :)


Mesmerix said...

You can make money playing music nowadays. I do so as a part time, supplemental thing. I wouldn't want to live off of it alone for sure. But, it is possible even with the current economic climate.

Oh, for reference, I do vocals/keys for a local classic rock/blues band. We're not too shabby. :)

microdot said...

I have no idea how much money I earned as a musician. I got few 45's from the late 70's and early 80's...
They were actually on sale in Toledo and made their way to the cut out bins.
I played guitar, but I stll play bass.
My fingers just don't fit in those teeny weeny frets no more...
I always think of H.G.Wells... The Time Machine and the evolution of different races due to class... the guitarists with their elegant appendages which facily fit into the fine frets and deftly manouver plectrums...fluidly glissandos flowing freely....
Then,all of us bass players who have evolved froggy fingers and super thumper thumbs still back in the swamp bashing our prey over the head with the ultimate heavy riff....