I had an epiphany last night.
I am in Maryland right now with my family. Many of you know my dad is not well. It is very emotional time for us now. I have been busy helping my mom and sister to take a load off of them for while. I am blogging in my free moments. I also get a bit of guitar practice in too. I am an intermediate level guitar player. As you may already know I took up playing the guitar a little over four years ago. I had 4 years of classical training as a child from about 11 to 14 years of age. I dropped the classical guitar the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately I did not pick up the guitar again until about four years ago.
I never do anything the easy way. I wanted to play Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan music, that’s it. No easy tunes, no Smoke On The Water, nothing in the middle, only my two favorite heroes. That ain’t the easy way. You can read how much time I put into practice and proper techniques and methods. That is why I write about this stuff. I’m living it now. Why do you think I know so much about muscle memory and solid focused methods for achieving your goals? I practice what I preach all of the time.
Once I learned the basics and history of blues scales and chords and long before my hands started to develop some speed and accuracy I went right to Hendrix and Vaughan. I’m 55 years old I want to learn this shit before I die and it may take that long.
Last night I turned up the watts (on my Marshall MG-10) and put the amp in overdrive and got real emotional and finally entered a new zone of clarity, a new level of “vibe” and that was my lesson. Before last night I was not getting emotional enough to hear the heavy heart piecing low down blues.
First I had to develop my skills to a certain level. My movements needed to become instinctual so I didn’t have to think about it and could play off of emotion. That’s why it is called the ‘Blues”, it’s all about the emotion. Otherwise they are just notes.
The first song I decided to learn to play was “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix. Then I learned “Little Wing” and “Hey Joe” and then I learned “Mary Had a Little Lamb” composed by Buddy Guy and played Stevie Ray style and now I’m learning “Tin Pan Alley” as played by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
I have worked on some of these songs now for almost 3 years now. This is not your entrance level music. I bit off a big piece. You can ask my wife, I always bite off more than I can chew. I practice the guitar or play the guitar, what ever you want to call it, all the time, every freakin’ day. I go over scales, play riffs, sections of songs, and turnarounds tirelessly.
Last night I felt it. I felt the heart stealing emotion of The Blues, Man, I got lost for a while. I could clearly recognize the intro to Red House. The timing on Mary Had A Little Lamb was right in the pocket. The intro to Little Wing, the most complex composition I have ever seen and my biggest challenged yet was very recognizable. For an intermediate player finding my emotion was a new level of playing. I’m still a very intermediate guitar player, and I don’t know how to call up that sort of emotion in my playing every time, but I had the blues.
I don’t have the words to express the sadness and worry I have for my family. I don’t wish this sadness on anyone, and yet I know in this we are all alike. At times like this I best understand the blues and why the blues live on past the suffering of the people who sing and play the blues.
It makes me wonder how the blues greats had so much insight at such young ages. The next blog Guitar Players Center produces is more light hearted, but has some vague similarities, please tune in for my next blog.Thanks and Enjoy.