Birth of an obsession #3
Okay, the guitar was freshly strung and tuned. I was ready with one exception. I needed to make one more stop on the way home so I pointed the car once more towards another shopping center and headed for my favorite bookstore-slash-coffeshop-slash-cool place to be seen. Walking in, I made a beeline straight back to the music section and began browsing titles on guitar instruction. It only took a few seconds to realize that there were literally hundreds of titles sitting there, packed into the shelf, that made a variety of promises that seemed, to me at that moment, to be totally baseless.
Play Popular Guitar in Ten Days, was one that seemed to scream from the pack. First, popular to whom? I would imagine that in some cultures, plucking one string over and over and over and mumbling weird, ululating noises with the back of your throat is popular. Ten days? Seriously? The author had clearly never met me. The only thing that I have ever learned in ten days was the fact that there was nothing I could learn in ten days.
There was a box that appeared to be big enough to hold two pairs of shoes that claimed to have everything you need to learn guitar. Huh? The box was too small to have a guitar in it and unless they had a tiny instructor packed in there in bubble-wrap, the entire package made no sense. On the cover was the photo of a grim, serious looking man who was a cross between Zorro and Wayne Newton, hunched over the neck of a guitar, making a face as if he had eaten bad clams. No, I didnt think that was the way to go either.
Next to that were several volumes from someone called Mel Bay. The name sounded familiar. I think he may have been the shortstop of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1954 through 1959. Once that image became stuck in my mind, I knew that wasnt going to work. I couldnt take instruction from someone I pictured with a giant wad of chewing tobacco wedged in his cheek, tugging at his shoe garters while saying Yall want to put yer hand like this here, see?
After standing there for twenty minutes scanning the titles, picking up the books, opening them and pretending to have an idea what they were actually saying, getting nudged out of the way by gangs of pre-pubescent glory rockers in leather jackets and dark glasses, I settled on a title called Guitar for Dummies. I had a guitar now and a lengthy and somewhat impressive history of doing some stupid things. It seemed like a natural pairing.
As I turned to head to the checkout, I noticed one of the little Mad Max clones had placed a small tome back on the shelf as he said to his mate. Yeah, that chord dictionary really helped me when I was just starting to play. Just starting to play? When was this? He was twelve. Did he start playing in pre-school? Was he lulling his classmates into naptime with the immortal Mason Williams tune, Classical Gas?
I took the book and opened it. It was filled with hundreds of diagrams of chords. Interestingly though, there were several different fingerings for the same chords. Some looked like they could be done with relative ease and others that simply could not be done with the normal human hand. No. There were more chords shapes shown that would require a least 7 fingers on your left hand and a few that looked as if you might actually need to have an extra inch or two grafted onto each finger. Ive seen easier things in the Kama Sutra. But I purchased the books. I was up to the challenge.
At least I was hoping I was. It remained to be seen.
"All I can do is be me ... whoever that is". Bob Dylan