One Last Gasp
So the best I’ve managed in the last year is a series of draft posts bemoaning my own lack of blog posts. And they don’t really count as I didn’t publish them.
I’ve been missing the blog, but just not got back into the habit. What creativity I can muster has been directed towards my guitar lessons, leaving precious little to use on amusing cat-based anecdotes or drinking exploits.
But I’ve missed it.
My blog never really had a focus beyond me ranting at the world. I toyed with the idea of making it music related, or film reviews, or to use some structure to force writing out of myself. Nothing really stuck though.
So I’m just going to start babbling again. I’m splitting the posts into sections to see if that helps.
Time Gentlemen, Please
And so i get to the last post of the month. FINALLY! I’m having to post before i leave today as im not sure how much internet access i will have.
So how did it go? My blog had been virtually dead for at least six months, so i was wary about how i’d cope going from zero to daily posts. At first it was fun to be back into it again. I was enjoying the process and glad to see i could still do it.
As the month wore on, it became harder and harder. Finding the time wasn’t as much of an issue as I expected, but finding subject was. More than once i’ve been staring at a blank screen, willing something to come into my head. I had to force myself to Just Start Writing and was amazed to find the every time, i came up with SOMETHING to write about.
I’ll admit that a lot of the posts are nonsense and certainly not up to the standard i’d usually aim for. Mroe than once, however, i found myself having to stop and wishing i could spend another evening redrafting and clarifying.
The mos importnat part for me has been ignoring my inner critic, just a bit. The deadline to get a blog out every day, no matter what meant i had no choice but to keep going on posts where i would normally ave scrapped teh lot and started again. And the interesting thing is that those posts sometimes turned out better than the ones i liked at the start.
I’ve not read through the months posts yet, but i will when i get back. Much as i’d liek to, i won’t redo any of them. I might use them as inspiration for new posts though.
Did i enjoy it? mostly. Would i do i again? probably not. Am i glad i did it? absolutely. Will it encourage me to start doing it “properly” again? you bet.
The blog is back 🙂
quick one about nothing
frou-frou is still stuck up north. I think being trapped with people you love isn’t the worst thing that could happen (even if one of those people is hundreds of miles away and missing her like crazy) but i’m sure she’d rather be home. I’d certainly rather not be heading to the other end of the country tomorrow, and hoping i’ll be able to get back.
I have to be up at ridiculsoulyearly o’clock to get a train to London for a training course. Whether I’ll actually make it and, more to the point , make it back is almost entirely weather dependent. So far, the snow is only affecting the north and east but it’s only a matter of time. I’m still enough of a tourist in london to enjoy the odd trip but the thought of spending any more time than i have to holed up in a hotel isn’t filling me with joy.
This is the second last post of the blog-a-day challenge. Realllllly struggling tonight as you can probably tell,but i think i have one last short one in me !
Strings And Things
(This turned into a bit of a rambling epic which i should turn into two posts but sod it)
Since my guitar session at my mate’s the other night, I’ve been really in the mood for playing again. So much so that my fingers are actually a bit sore from it which only usually happens when I’ve been having prolonged sessions and trying out new things.
I’m a guitar addict. When I was 14, my sister got a nylon strung acoustic for xmas. Within a month, she was bored with it and I claimed it (her version of the story is that I nicked it before she got a chance to get to grips with it. The nerve of the woman … ). The following Xmas, I convinced my parents to get me a steel strung acoustic. The step up in sounds and finger pain was quite substantial, but by then I was too hooked to care
After much badgering and on the basis of a decent set of exam results, my parents bought me an electric guitar – blue, two humbuckers, a whammy bar and a pointy headstock. I don’t think I’d ever loved anything as much as I loved that guitar. For a while, the rest of my life was just a nuisance. It was all just time I wasn’t playing guitar and i couldn’t see the point of it
By then, I was spending all my lunch hours in the music suite at school, using their equipment and getting to know all the other music nuts doing the same thing. Some of us were metal heads who wanted to be virtuosos like Malmsteen and Vai and Satriani, spending hours practising scales and picking techniques and following the exercises in the latest month’s magazines but never actually doing anything as productive as writing a song. Some people wanted to play covers of pop songs in front of actual people. The really cool ones wrote their own songs.
In my usual way, i was a little bit of each. I was definitely in awe of one guy in the year above who wrote songs and had his own group OUTSIDE of school. He seemed to be running at a slightly different angle to the rest of us, was always listening to more interesting records than us, had better hair than us – and he had the most gorgeous guitar. Instead of the pointy rawwkkkk sticks we all craved, he had a semi-acoustic – all curves and style, with a huge hollow body. He was very protective of it, so i never did get to find out how it felt to play but he was clearly as in love with it as I was with mine.
The music teacher, who played in a local band, encouraged us to the point of creating a school group and getting us to play at a school disco. We learned a load of top 20 hits, and a few off-the-wall things we liked. We hit the stage as “The Groovy Sonic Mushroom Men (with croutons)” – i did mention it was the eighties, didn’t i? – and i don’t think i’ve ever been as happy in my life. Quite apart from my classmates not only noticing me but actually appearing to be impressed by something i was doing, the music teacher had let me use his Les Paul Custom sunburst, a no-nonsense, chunk of guitar that would deafen you at 50 yards, no matter how low you put the amp. I still, to this day, dream of owning one if my bank balance can ever stand the dent.
Once i went to uni, even though i still played, i never managed to wangle my way into any of the bands. Despite my best efforts, i was never much of a songwriter or a singer, so striking out on my own was a non-starter too. I didn’t have as much time to spend on it so it slid further and further to the side. It wasn’t until nearly 10 years later that i finally decided to get serious again. In a fit of madness, i bought a real Fender Telecaster, a genuine American made, professional musician quality iconic symbol that cost the best part of a month’s wages. A few months later, i did it again. On my first visit to Cambridge Folk Festival, I tried a Lowden acoustic and spent all weekend trying to talk myself out of buying it. I failed and ended up cradling it in the back of the car all the way home, wondering how i was going to afford another month without any money.
I’ve still never managed to get much further than playing to myself, though. I buy loads of tutorial books and download videos and search magazines for ways to take it further. For a while Steve and I had some music nights, with the intention of writing some songs and maybe playing somewhere but I quickly realised he was way out of my league and started to feel a bit sheepish playing in front of him. He’ll deny it, but he’s very, very talented. For all my years practising theory and technique and fancy book learning, he has a knack for putting chords and melody together which I just don’t, and He Really Should Use It More (was that enough of a hint, mate? 🙂
So now, I’m nearly 39 and my chances of being a pop star, a rock god or a credible indie artist are fading (ahem). I’m learning to enjoy playing for the sake of playing again. I can afford nice instruments (although still not quite the Les Paul) and I don’t have the exams and hormones to distract me. I can afford to go to gigs and buy CDs. I’ve discovered a love of folk music and singing (however poorly) which is encouraging me to learn songs. Maybe i’ll even manage to write a few that i’m not too embarassed to share.
Most importantly, after all this time, i’m finally realising that it’s not about the guitars or amps or super-locrian modes. It’s about accepting that you love to play and doing it for no other reason. Music is its own reward and it’s more than enough for anyone.
Weather and Warbling
Britain seems to be en route to whatever the opposite of meltdown is. Snow is coming, my children. FLEE! Save yourselves! Except if you could try not to flee until after my other half is back tomorrow, so that she gets the road to herself and doesn’t get stuck in traffic, that’d be lovely of you*
Manchester hasn’t had any snow yet, although it has gone from V. cold to F. cold. The cats are being extra cuddly at the moment, mainly as I’m the warmest thing in the room. I’ve managed to avoid going out at all today, but need to go on a mercy dash tomorrow for an emergency ball of wool. Or yarn. there’s a difference, apparently.
Apart from worrying about whether herself will make it back tomorrow, I’ve had a top day. Did some token productive things (washed up, sorted some clothes, shuffle some stuff round a bit) then spent a while reading watching You Tube videos about Jazz Theory. I’m not a big jazz fan (“11 guys on stage, all playing a different tune” to quote Craig Ferguson) but the theory side of it is an interesting way to improve your general musicianship and impress people in music shops.
After some Doctor Who over lunch, I was tinkering with the xbox and discovered i can get Last.fm through it. This is effectively a music station based on what you like. I’ve been tuning into to eighties indie and post-folk and slowcore (all terms i’ve picked up from the app, by the way) ever since.
Making a bit of a dent on the magazine backlog too. Much easier to read without the distraction of moving pictures.
Anyway, can’t sit here chatting, got a whole lot of nothing to do before i go to bed.
*Obviously, this does not apply if you are driving a snow plough or gritting lorry.