Friday, August 14, 2009

when I get a new guitar, you can have this one and sing me a lullaby

It certainly wasn't a Gibson Les Paul. In fact, it was just an old acoustic guitar. But when I hauled that long abandoned instrument out of the closet yesterday, I thought of the story of Les Paul, recovering from a near fatal car crash, with an badly broken arm, asking the doctors to set his arm at a right angle so that he could continue to hold a guitar while he healed.

And I figured that, considering I had no broken bones plus I had a couple of hours alone in the house, the least I could do to pay tribute to the legacy Les Paul left behind was to try to play the damn thing.

i had experimented with the old guitar a few months before, after surreptitiously eyeballing it when it had fallen into disfavour by the former guitar student in the house. I had picked it
up and plucked a few strings, pressed on the frets a bit, strummed it a few times, and tried to remember some inkling of the lessons I had taken in grade six.

I put it back in the closet after about seven minutes.

But yesterday, it all felt different. Maybe it was the cold drizzle spattering against the living room windows that made lounging back on the futon with a warm guitar in my arms feel so inviting.

Maybe it was the fact that I was holding my prized authentic Elliott Brood guitar pick. That little black plastic triangle, infused with genuine rock star sweat, is such a powerful reminder of both an incredible band that I admire the hell out of and a dear friend who spoils me with thoughtful gifts. You would use an Elliott Brood besweated pick to fuck around on your kid's old guitar? I hear some of you gasp with horror. But I believe that using sacred objects is the best way to honour them. Even the Eames chair is meant to be functional, after all.

Maybe some smidgen of the spirit of Les Paul, floating about in the afterlife, passed over zombie central that afternoon and gave me a prod. All I know is that I messed about and tried a few things on that guitar, and that the pick felt so good, so charged with vibes, between my fingers, that when I finally looked up, I was a little stunned to discover that I had been playing with that guitar for 45 minutes. And I didn't even sound all that excruciatingly horrid.

I do believe a monster may have been created.

20 comments:

katrocket said...

Rekindling your love affair with the guitar is a perfect tribute to Les Paul. It's only a monster if it keeps on living in your closet.

Wandering Coyote said...

I'm so glad you did this. I've always wanted to play the guitar...

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's only a monster if it keeps on living in your closet.
I can think of a lot worse philosophies by which to live one's life, Katrocket.
So it's a good thing I only put it away in a corner of the living room then.

I think I'm just going to try to teach myself this time around though, Wandering Coyote. I'm not really interested in learning how to play claire de lune again.

Charlie said...

Now that you've about finished nurturing RO for 18 years, it's time to nurture yourself. Go for the guitar because it's never too late to learn something new. (Forget all that crap about old dogs and new tricks—it's a filthy lie.)

~Jen~ said...

DOOOO ITTTTTTTTTTT

bloody awful poetry said...

Embrace that monster, Zombie. I order you.Embrace it with lyurve and utter unself-consciousness.

justrun said...

Can we start a band? Please say yes! Please say yes!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

From one old dog to another, I've never really believed that new tricks are for the young either, Charlie. It's my new tricks that keep me sexy, frankly.

I WIIIIIL, Jen, and the next time we get together, I am going to make you listen.

I am utterly devoid of self-consciousness when playing guitar in the living room or dancing in the kitchen, BAP. Embracing orders noted!

YES! Not only can we, Justrun, I think it is imperative that we start a band. The only question is how many tambourines will we need?

Sean Wraight said...

So y'know... Your timing is fortuitous. It is my sincere desire to pick up and seriously learn the guitar next year. I'm thinking this might just be the perfect opportunity to start a band. We could start a whole new genre - "closet rock"!

Then again they are liable just to lock us in there...

Good for you though. And good for you on discovering the power of the pick. Tis' a powerful taboo my friend.

s

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I envision many board room scuffles over who gets to be front man or woman, though, Sean. The one with the biggest guitar? The one who actually knows how to tune their guitar? (that would not be me) The one who has the only key to the closet? The dynamics could get messy.
I'm relieved that you have no objections to me merging my own finger sweat with Elliott Brood finger sweat on the sacred guitar pick. Some taboos are just meant to be broken.

leazwell said...

Don't wait for all the external forces to merge so perfectly again, muster up your discipline and hunker down, the pleasure the instrument will bring you is too good to miss!

Remi said...

Nothing beats the guitar. Well, I'm kind of partial to the harmonica, as well. Easier to stash in a backpack.

I always refer back to the folksinger Bob Snider who explained that he got to a point in life where he realized he just didn't want to work anymore. So he learned all three chords on the guitar.

Words to live by. . .

Gifted Typist said...

I'm sure Les would love this post

Gifted Typist said...

And what Charlie said - the whole idea that old dogs can't learn new tricks is false and sometimes just an excuse not to bother. Go for it.

Allison said...

I've been toying around with the idea of getting back into playing, too. I need to buy a new one though, as I have given away my old guitar. I do enjoy it.

I'm with Sean...lets start a band! Although, we can't all play guitar. ;) I can tune though!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You are right of course, Leazwell. Waiting for supreme intervention is a cop-out. I gonna do it.

I hope Mr Snider doesn't mind if I co-opt his words to live by, Remi. Those are my kinda words indeed.

This old dog never really listened to popular wisdom anyway, Gifted. I'm all about the new tricks, ridiculous though that may make me.

Sounds like you are starting to vie for band dominance already, Al. But hell, if you can tune a guitar, I'm thinking you are miles ahead of the rest of us.

Allison said...

I'd be willing to give up guitar for the triangle. ;)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

But will you still tune our guitars for us, Al? We need to establish guidelines right away.

justacoolcat said...

You've inspired me. I'm heading down to the basement to pick up the PRS.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Confession: I haven't picked up the guitar again since then, JustA. But next time I have the house to myself again, watch out!