Clever twanging…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s weather will be composed of: grey slabs, wet glue at the horizon, tired dirty birds, streaks of brown twirling smoke, aerial scudding, and the dark smell of composting leaves.
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I have nearly come to the end of reading through printouts of my old blog posts which were on that funny old thing called MySpace – Oh, isn’t it embarrassing reading one’s early stuff? I can feel my toes trying to curl in my shoes… Still, here’s a piece, which after a little tinkering and editing I will happily rehash here:

When I had been learning to play guitar for a couple of years, I heard people talk in reverential hushed tones about unworldly beings called ‘session musicians’. These people are apparently so good at what they do that they get paid lots and lots of money to go and play on other people’s recordings. Wow! Imagine a life doing that! This was something to aspire to! It seems that these clever people are able to play in any style: rock, country, jazz, pop, metal, classical, and also, and more importantly, to be able to actually read music!… Gosh!…
A while later, having heard on record, and occasionally seen live, bands with this type of guitarist in them, I realised that I didn’t like them very much. Yes, they, of course, played faultlessly and cleverly; people would come up to me and say, ‘Wow! Isn’t he fantastic?…’ and I’d reply, ‘Well, I suppose so…’ I could see why they said that, but the music didn’t really touch me or move me…
What I found did touch me and move me (and still does) was the music of ‘not so good guitarists’ such as John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Wolf with Hubert Sumlin, Elmore James, but also punk kids who could hardly play, but thrashed away with enthusiasm and a passion that was monumental and moving.
I realised that a good direction to take down the long road of music is to only play the music that you really like, and which stirs something in you; then you can put something into it which is emotional and personal to you, and not worry too much about being accurate or particularly clever. Cleverness is not really that important…
A lot of guitar players treat their instrument as if they were a collector, like someone who collects stamps, or matchbox labels, or Ferraris; they seem to think that the more tunes they can play, the better a player they will become. They end up being able to perform hundreds and hundreds of tunes accurately and adequately, and for some reason, they really do seem quite satisfied with that…
Would you say that John Lee Hooker was a great guitarist? He would have never stood a chance in hell of being a session player, but I’d rather listen to him than clever polished blandness any old time…

 

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, blues, brain, guitars, history, information, learning, mind, music, style, surrealism, thinking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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