New Career. M.S. 1989
It’s a known fact, well documented by thousands of sources, some of them even know what they are talking about, that drugs and alcohol effect a person. There is not a drug out there, even the shit you buy over the counter at the chemist, that with prolonged use doesn’t have some effect, it’s what they are designed to do. Some effects might be good, some bad and even over my years science has proven and disproved so many theories once held true that it’s surprising any of us are alive really.
However while the effects of prescription drugs are often known by, some might even say hidden from, the world as a whole, illicit and illegal drugs are always going to be a problem for two simple reasons. Firstly they are usually untested and often mixed with some weird shit to make the trip even better. But the biggest reason for them being the problem they are is because they are too easy to get. The mild mannered business man might not know how to get them but every drug addict knows how to get them.
Back when I started drugs they were relatively cheap and drug sellers not only knew the price most addicts were willing to pay they knew where to find the best addicts to sell to. But like everything the business got greedier and with that greed came a lot more problems. Don’t get me wrong I’m not defending drugs in any way but it is what it is and in the 80’s you could mostly trust a drug dealer to give you something that wasn’t laced with rat poison, or in the case of weed, laced with insecticide. By the time drugs moved into the 90’s and further into the 00’s backyard dealers became greedier for cash and started cutting their shit with less than savouring things. Even the rock stars that could afford the higher price were getting the same laced shit Joe Public in his white collar and expensive suit was getting.
However that’s getting a little bit off topic for the current track, let me wind back time a bit.
After Andrea left me I couldn’t bring myself to admit I was sad, she’d moved on, some say she cheated on me just like she claimed I did to her, and I was finding solace in women, weed and whisky, the three ‘W’s. I wasn’t sad because I thought everything I did was making me happy, in fact most of it was just making me forget.
The only thing I didn’t forget was my love for music and the guitar. If I put a record on and asked Jim to teach me how to play it he’d do it, the guy had an ear for music and although he wasn’t a fan of my new music for some reason he tolerated it enough to teach me what he could. I’d ask him how to play a particular song I’d been listening to, or I’d ask him how a chord progression actually worked and each question he’d answer and show me how it was done.
The only thing he wouldn’t teach me was how to play another guitarist’s solo and solos were what made songs I was listening to. From a simple lead break between verses to the hardcore guitar shredding solos that made many a band of the 80’s and 90’s famous.
“If you want to copy another man’s solos that’s on you!” Jim replied when I asked him if he could show me how Randy Rhodes got the sound he did on the Ozzy Osbourne albums that had been released since Ozzy had left Black Sabbath. I obviously had a questionable look on my face when he said that because he followed it up with. “Solos are a signature of the guitarist, just like an artist signs his work so you know it’s his, a guitarist signs his work with his solos.” He then added. “There are guitarists out there whose solo work is so distinctive that you can pick who it is from the way it’s played. Copying that is like copying Picasso and calling it your own, even if they say imitation is the best for or flattery.”
I understood what Jim meant, but that didn’t make it easier to accept. To me and my screwed up mind at the time copying a solo, playing as good as the originator, gave me something to judge myself against. For some reason I didn’t see that playing the rest of the song note for note was an accurate judgement. Silly I know but that’s the way my mind was.
In the end I did take notice of Jim and I practised and practised. When Jim was available he happily taught me everything he could. If I found something I really liked he didn’t just show me the notes the guitarist was playing he showed me how it was played, then he showed me how the same tune might sound different with less distortion, or less volume.
It was through those sessions that Jim also taught me that so many of the songs in the modern world, even back then at the tale end of the 80’s were so similar. A few notes changed here, a few chords changed there, a different tone, a slightly different technique, more volume, less volume and suddenly so many songs sounded similar to each other. Not in a copied kind of way, but in an influencing kind of way. But it was that small nugget of knowledge that helped me move towards the thought that maybe my talents didn’t just lie in playing other peoples songs, or waiting for Jim to show me how to play other peoples songs, maybe I could make up my own songs.
It was at that moment that I put down the bottle of Jack Daniels, butted out my hash and picked up a pen and started writing.