Thursday, January 6, 2011

Year of Guitar

Eric Johnson and Me

Okay, I've decided this blog has sat idle long enough.  And I need something to keep me writing since my fiction muse has gone on an extended vacation.

What I'm most excited about, here in the beginning of 2011, is that my sweet nephew and brother-in-law gave me guitar lessons for Christmas!! My teacher will be the same man who teaches both of them, John Smith at Music Unlimited in Mt. Pleasant.  I haven't scheduled my first lesson yet, but I'm getting reacquainted with my guitars and rebuilding my callouses.  They're coming along nicely, I must say.  I'm very excited!

I began my on-again/off-again relationship with the guitar when I was at Marshall University, way "back in the day" when I started hanging out with musicians.  Through them, I developed a love of live music that is still with me. 

I can't say exactly when my personal music tastes changed from the pop music of my youth to more guitar driven music, but I clearly remember delaying a road trip so I could listen, one last time before we left, to Duane Allman playing "Jessica" on Brothers and Sisters.  Eric Clapton's "Layla" captivated me for not only the guitar, but also that great piano ending.  I did have four years of piano from fourth to eighth grade.  I was never very good at it.

My musician friends helped me get a fairly decent guitar--certainly one good enough for my feeble talents and I learned several chords from them.  I got pretty good at some of the chord changes and 3-chord songs.  I seemed to have better rhythm with the guitar than I did on the piano.

But in 1990 (I know that's a lifetime ago to some people) I became somewhat obsessed with guitar music.  That was the year of Joe Satriani's Surfing with the Alien and Eric Johnson's Ah Via Musicom.  Not only were they released, but they got actual airplay on FM radio!  Thank you to the powers-that-be!  This music was like nothing I'd ever heard before and it I knew I'd been waiting for it my whole life.  Without lyrics, it spoke to me.  It soothed and calmed me.  It defies my description even today.

John Smith, my teacher, has done an incredible job with my nephew, Conner.  He started taking lessons at . . . I think age ten.  Five years in and he rocks!!  I'm so proud of him!  Now, his father is taking lessons from John and soon I will be too.  John also taught the late Wesley Burlingham who, at a party a few years ago inspired me to pick my guitar back up and learn some more on my own. 

(Sigh)  Gosh.  Wesley is so sorely missed.

But I know he'll be right there with me as I begin this adventure in guitar to which I'm so looking forward!  And I hope some of you will follow along as well.  I'm sure there will be successes just as I'm sure there will be struggles.  But I bet I'll have a good time no matter what. 

It's a good thing I can laugh at myself, 'cause there's bound to be a lot of that!


Melanie said...

Love it Mary. I will be following along to learn of your progress. You can do anything you set your mind to. I will be sending you encouraging vibes.

Unknown said...

Looking forward to following you on your journey. I am positive it will be an interesting one!

Rebecca said...

Ooo - good luck... I'll be following your progress! :)

Judith Allen said...

I can see you now--guitar in hand and a big smile on your face. Now have you seen or listened to Benise and his CD Sentimiento--OMG--rapture!

Mary O said...

Thanks everyone! I know I'll work harder with all of you behind me!

Unknown said...

Great first piece! I didn't know you used to play guitar. So did I. Still have the Yamaha six-string I got for my 16th birthday. But I haven't played in 25 years. Good luck with the lessons though!