flav playing

flav playing

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Early appearance of guitars in flavworld

This is probably quite different in tone to the other posts I've put here, in which I've not tried to tell a story but rather to recreate an impression of what I felt at a time. This one is less subjective, I think, more an account of a certain development in me.
Our mother played the guitar, singing old Latin American songs and accompanying herself with the guitar -she mostly did Argentine tangos by Carlos Gardel and Mexican rancheras, some of those old Revolutionary songs like La Cucaracha and Allá en el Rancho Grande. I always got the very strong impression our dad didn't like this. Maybe for this reason, we never took to it or thought about it as extraordinary or beautiful or special, we never considered how rare it was either -not many people could play an instrument in the world we lived in, we certainly weren't taught music in school and music was something that other, very special people did, not something one could aspire to doing.

Now I see that singing of old folk and pop South American songs as almost the only outlet she had not only for her creativity but also out of the dreary world in which she had come to find herself.

When and how did I consider that the guitar could be an outlet for my own stuff, for what I felt I had to say? I'm not sure when it started to happen and it came, in any case, from different sources, not from my mother's playing. More likely from the Beatles and the fact that a couple of classmates could play the chords and a riff or two of some of their songs.

I think the first time I touched a guitar that wasn't my mum's and with the intention of playing it was at the auditorium of the hated secondary school I went to. Somebody had what I now know was a Fender Stratocaster (in all probability a cheap knock-off) and taught me on the spot to play the riff to 'Ticket to Ride'. I was amazed that I could do that in minutes flat as I thought myself incapable of anything musical... And I think that flicked some kind of switch in my brain.
Then along came a friend teaching me to play the chords to 'House of the Rising Sun'. In A minor, with a full barré F major chord. This took me nearly a year to get right, as I remember it.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was playing bass guitar with a terrible local band; these two Italian brothers who owned the drum kit, the PA and most of the amplification. One evening at the end of a particularly eventful gig that included a power cut and the main lead and the drummer (i.e. the two Italian brothers) forgetting their parts and messing up repeatedly, this guy who I later learnt, was a musician, comes near the stage and says to me "you could get to be good and make music -but lose the band, ok?".
Music became my life -and still is. That is still a mystery to me. Something about the workings of which I have come to learnt a lot and yet it still is a deep mystery to me, how it is that we and everything in the universe resonate and sings.

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