Musically Challenged

Do you remember the first time you fell in love with someone? Maybe that person is your current partner in crime, or maybe just a memory.

I remember the day that Joel caught my attention– but that’s for a different post. I also remember the night that he caught my interest enough that I stopped looking elsewhere. One night, on the steps of typical off-campus living (e.g., apartments with vintage lead paint and carpet, and the oh-so-right price of Dirt Cheap), he declared is intent of being lead guitar in a rock band.

Okay, so it’s total pick up line, but I had never, ever dated anyone with musical talent. Unless being able to squeeze eight, 15-inch speakers into a geo metro counts. While my mouth moved along with the conversation, my brain started picturing life as a groupie/girlfriend to the guitarist.

The picture of me, living life on the road without any kind of job-type responsibility, was really appealing. I’ve always felt like I was supposed to be rich, you know. /reality of poor rock star girlfriend weren’t part of my fantasy, m-kay/ It was also sort of intimidating since my musical talent is…um…non-existant. One friend actually tried to jump out of my moving car instead of listening to me sing along with the radio. But I digress.

Then the night that he listened to one of my favorite songs, Paint it Black* by the Rolling Stones and then played it for me, acoustically, on the aforementioned steps? Ahhh… it was love.

*Why is this one of my favorite songs? Because it was the theme song to Tour of Duty, a tv-show about Vietnam that I used to watch with my parents as a preteen. Numerous arguments between Joel and I about the true meaning of said song. I don’t say this very often… but I wasn’t right.*

Then like all new love it turned pretty quickly to ambivalence since his musical tastes and mine are on opposite ends of the scale.

“King Crimson? You have got to be kidding me,” I said.
“Method Man? Who’s that?” he replied.
“Sammy Hagar or David Lee Roth?” he challenged
“Neither- I don’t like Van Halen.” I answered.

And there you have it. For the most part the only music we both truly enjoy is Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I think Guns and Roses are both over-played and over-hyped, he thinks Slash is the man. Electric guitar accompanied by other instruments is often amazing. Playing loud electric guitar on an amp that cost more than my engagement ring is less awesome. (Seriously sweetheart, I’m not bitter about the engagement ring–really. But you have to admit that the cost differential is pretty damn funny.)

I am ever in awe that he can listen to a random song and–often– pick his way into playing most of the guitar parts in less than 30 minutes. Even more in awe over the fact that he doesn’t really read music. Then slightly suspicious about how precise his musical ear can be in proportion to his wife ear.

Thus when Zach asked for a rock guitar for Christmas–which I countered with, “you have to learn on an acoustic first”–JB was all puffed up with pride.

And Zach gets his first real guitar.

Doesn’t he just have angsty-guitar player written all over him? Long, curly blonde hair? The baggy shirt? The songwriting capabilities that will come from his language skills and ability to hold on the slightest of insults for thousand of days.

Ahhh… Mom of the guitar star. So much better than girlfriend. The girlfriend always gets dumped and then publicly dissed on the Billboard Top 100. That has to sting.

Later that night, after the kids were passed out, I walked into the living room and found my darling husband playing guitar. Not one of the four grown-up versions that are scattered in various locations about my house. Nope, he was rocking it with Mater.

And for the very first time in 10 years of togetherness I said, “hey, why don’t you teach me to play something?” Thus began the 3 hour “Louie-Louie” lesson (only the first 5 notes, mind you) that has permanently shriveled some part of JB’s musical heart.

My reasoning for lessons has nothing to do with my actually thinking I’ll ever be able to play. However, if he can teach me, then he’ll be able to teach Zach.

These little lessons (we’re now working on the rhythm part of All Along the Watchtower) are just full of laughter. Mostly mine, since my butchering of the notes appears to cause true physical pain to poor JB. Despite being one of the most easy going people I’ve ever met, he can be an arrogant asshole when it comes to being the Teacher for the things he does well. There was a tennis lesson incident that still–7 years later–makes me mad enough to want to bean him with a racket.

But beyond making JB squirm in discomfort, which I quite enjoy, the whole scenario has brought a lot of riotous laughter into our house.

Could you keep a straight face or remain angry about anything after hearing a 4 year old’s first interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s Stone Free?
“STORM FREE. I CAN’T SEE.”
“STORM FREE. Itchy knees”

Now both he and Elliot walk around the house randomly singing, “Stone Free…I have knees”.

Then I remembered these guys–Rodrigo Y Gabriela— that I discovered thanks to NPR. It’s rock and roll so they (and JB) are happy, and there’s enough rhythm to satisfy my rap-craving heart. Because trust me, Method Man has not made a kiddie album.

4 thoughts on “Musically Challenged

  1. Love this. Your scattered mind pulled this all together, my friend. Love it. And oy vey. I can SO see my daughter following your kid around on tour. Might have to put my foot down, man. 😉

  2. dude, kiddo got a guitar too for chrismas. maybe they can be rock stars together! Oh, the costume possibilities 🙂 I’d like to learn some hippie folk songs before the Jimi songs, it might be easier.

  3. I hope you have better learning music than I did. I tried to learn from one of your aunt’s boyfriends. I wanted to learn “The House of the Rising Sun” (in case that’s not the title– I’ll sing a few bars: There is a house in New Orleans they call the rising sun, etc) I couldn’t get the two hands moving together part of playing. Plus the rhythm. Crap I’m lucky I can read a poem. Now, being the Nonie of a family rock band, that’ll get me street cred. with my students. LOL

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