I’m still loving Em because of the sound it makes and the ease in which I can play it but I can’t seem to remember the finger placements Am. The G and C chords are tricky and I’m wondering what other guitarist has small hands – they have to be out there. I’m being taught that I’m supposed to use my middle and ring finger for the G chord but I find using my ring finger and my pinky finger give me a more confident sound and moving to the C chord from that position is a lot easier, as well. I feel like I’m at a bit of a crossroads because what if I teach myself to use my ring and pinky fingers and I find out that if I commit to playing songs that way, hellhounds will be released and humanity will crumble in front of me all because I didn’t do the thing that everyone else does. That’s what happens, right? If I mess with “how things are supposed to be” hellhounds get released?… My feeling is that I should just figure out which way is easiest for me and stick with it; however, if I find a practical reason why I should use my middle and ring fingers, I will do so. I just need to see it in writing, none of this stuff about feelings or because it’s how it’s always done. As mentioned, I’m moving on from that line of thinking.
While I was learning these chords I also learned about tablature and now my mind is running wild. The perfectionist in me says that I should strive to learn how to read music and the pragmatist in me says that’s going to take way too long and it might not be fun anymore if I go that route and the teenager inside of me says “just play songs god dammit!” Tablature in itself seems to be a little confusing because the scale you read is upside down and it’s not totally intuitive but it’s not learning notes is a faster way to learn songs.
As I pluck away, I’m already feeling like I want a Velvet Underground song to be one of the first full songs I learn (and I know people who would not be surprised at that). Thinking about and planning for the actuality of me learning a song makes me think about a friend of mine in high school who started learning the guitar and quickly picked up Blackbird by The Beatles. I remember how happy she was that she could play the song and how she sang it lightly and I remember how impressed I was but also how STONED she was – all the time. There was absolutely no way that in between her never ending bong rips she learned how to read music. I’ve got to calm down because tablature exists for a reason and it should be a shortcut that I appreciate.
Right now, I’m reading a memoir called “Crate Digger” by Bob Suren and it’s all about his time in the American Hardcore scene. It’s a fun and unpretentious read and it feels like he’s telling the stories to me and a bunch of friends at a bar. Deeply convicted to documenting all that is American punk, Suren tells his stories from experience as a musician, the creator of a record label, a record store owner, a promoter, and all around total die hard fan. Each segment is dedicated to a punk album, a band he was in, or person in the scene and there are quite a few stories that would make for excellent television if scripted or at least a great story for The Moth. What was astonishing to me, though, were a few moments that I had to take a step back and wonder how this story would have been different if he was a woman in the punk scene. There were stories where he merely had to reach out to someone and they would take them under their proverbial wing and guide him to knowledge about new bands, the scene, and the recording industry.
I’m sure he got his fair share of getting kicked down and being called a dick but the ease that he seemed to have obtaining knowledge just because he was interested in obtaining it made me a bit jealous. There was even a story about how he joined a band as a bass player even though he didn’t know how to play bass – owning the instrument was good enough. I would like to think all you need is that devilish approach, that little glint in your eye and confident strut but, I’m feeling, you know, just kinda sorta from my time as a lady in the world, if I was in my younger days and auditioning for a band I would probably have to show up and blow everyone away with my playing skills, vocal skills, and lyric writing skills before even being asked to audition for a band. And even then the drummer’s brother would probably be chosen over me because, you know, he owns a guitar and wants to learn how to play it. I’m not going to fault Mr. Suren! I like his book a lot and I am learning so much from it – and not just about music history but American history – and his stories are great but I can’t help but wonder about the gender politics of his scene and how these stories would play out differently if he was experiencing it as a woman. Turning back to the content, one story that really sticks out is about him sending his record out into the world only for it to be given a bad review and that bad review turning around to become a defining moment in his career. God damn! This is the stuff artists dreams are made of.
If you’re interested in the book get it through Microcosm Publishing!