One touch was all it took
One touch and I was hooked
Electricity through fingers
Power running through my veins
Fingers running up the neck
Talent so easily over looked.
It Takes More. M.S. 1994
Jim and I started guitar lessons as soon as I got dressed that evening, which took a surprising short time because I was like a man possessed. I was being called to by that lump of sunburst orange wood and if it had to wait for me to get dressed I was going to do so in the quickest time possible.
I’d love to say I picked the thing up and became a virtuoso instantly, after all the few other things I’d lent my hand to over the previous few months I seemed to be good at instantly and they were no less addictive than the guitar was. But alas I wasn’t.
I placed my fingers on the fret board, stuck a pick between my thumb and forefinger and began to twang. Obviously I didn’t know what I was playing but I suddenly thought I was playing something because I went of in a mess of finger and hand movements, very proud of myself. In fact I think, although am not entirely sure, that I was actually playing a tune. In my head it sounded like it and to this day all I can remember was being proud of myself for picking the guitar up so quickly.
Then I turned to Jim, possibly seeking some sort of congratulations, only to see him with his hands over his ears and a pained look on his face. It was an over exaggerated look to make a point but at the same time I quickly got the message that I was not as good as my ears were hearing.
“If you want to learn to play that thing more listening and less wanking is required.” Jim said.
I realised instantly what he was saying. I’d asked him to teach me to play the thing, not sit there and tell me how good I was. Even if what I was playing was the meanest guitar solo of all time, and I know it wasn’t, guitar solos are not the be all and end of playing a guitar. There might have been an over insurgence of 80’s guitarist using the guitar as if it was an extension of their penis and showing off but each and every one of them could also play the songs they were there to play. It wasn’t all about showing off super chords and notes.
Even back in the 80’s there was a mantra that revolved around the guitar and the guitarist. They attracted the guys who wanted to be guitarists and they attracted the girls who for some reason thought guitar players above all else in the band were hot. It wasn’t the case for every band or band member but one only had to look in the front row of the gigs we were setting up to see the drunken men playing air guitar while the women stared into the eyes of the guitarist hoping he’d look their way. Then back stage or in the alleys where the bands were loaded in an out of cars the girls screaming for the guitarists would easily out number the guys doing the same thing. Getting into the guitar for ‘the chicks’ was a common statement in press releases and interviews and those ‘chicks’ loved it as much as the guitarists did.
But I had Andrea and at the time we were in love, at least I thought we were, so automatically I wasn’t picking up the guitar because I wanted a swarm of girls chasing after me. However it would be naive of me to suggest I wasn’t in some way seeking fame and fortune, I just didn’t know what either really was at the time.
Whenever Jim and I shared a bit of down time together at Steve’s house over the next few weeks I had a guitar in my hand. I suppose it would have been nice if I could have said that drinking and smoking weed took a back seat in favour of the guitar, but it didn’t, the only thing that took a back seat was Andrea. We still had sex, we still had alone time but it became less and less as my time with the guitar became more and more.
I found myself working most nights at smokey pubs and clubs, often not getting home until Andrea was headed to work, some days not even seeing her before work. She began to play hookie from work just to spend time with me but when I was unresponsive to anything but the guitar she turned back to her heroine and just lay on the bed while I went through the lessons and notes Jim had given me. When I was through with my lessons I’d sleep restlessly in a fog of Jack Daniels and weed quickly consumed over the hours I practised the guitar.
On the nights, or the odd days, where Jim and I found ourselves awake and conscious at the same time I’d bug him until he’d teach me something else. It didn’t matter how drunk Jim was he’d always be ready to teach me something. Strangely enough it also didn’t matter how drunk or stoned I was I always seemed to remember what I was being taught. I wouldn’t remember who else was in the room but I’d remember every lesson and then practise that lesson when I was alone, or more often than not in a room with my partially naked and out of it girlfriend who may as well not have been there at all.
At the same time I’d spend the nights we worked watching guitarists good and bad on stage at the venues we worked, trying to figure out what they had that made them special, or got them gigs. Before loading out the gear and heading back to the warehouse, or home to Steve’s I’d try to talk to the guitarist, those that weren’t hoarded by groupies, some were great, others jerks. The jerks seemed to only be interested in getting the girls, the great ones happy to chat. Seeing such distinction laid the grounds for which guitarist’s careers I began to follow.
It was during that time, as my relationship with Andrea was breaking down, a mere four months after she taught me how to love, how to fuck and how to be with a woman, that something else appeared in my life and that something was to change things forever, yet again!