sorabji.com: What are you doing here?: purging

Sarah on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 06:30 am:

    i don't know what it is about this place. it makes me write sometimes.

    i just got back from driving around for a couple hours. something i rarely do anymore. (if it was daylight i would have gone surfing.) i came home, shut the computer down and prepared to surf the mattress for a few hours.

    couldn't sleep. didn't even try. knew it would be futile.

    i got in a fight with my father tonight, which is why i went for a drive. you see, i'm learning to play the guitar and he is a very good guitar player. he's been trying to teach me, to help me. i want desperately to learn and to be skilled, but it always ends up in yelling and fighting. playing guitar these last few months has brought me feelings i cannot explain. it fills me up with the most profound sense of joy and ecstacy, and each little success i have in learning gives me confidence. it makes me feel stimulated and interesting. i love music. it's so important to me.

    the problem is that i still pretty much suck. i only know about 10 chords and i'm slow moving between them. i don't really have the strumming down right either. but, you know, i'm trying. i practice everyday. on weekends - when i'm not surfing or gardening or whatnot - the majority of my time is spent practicing. even if i just sit and do scales for an hour, or practice bar chords... no matter how bad they sound, no matter how much the notes buzz at the frets, i love it. i suck and i don't really care.

    i've been working on learning to play Ode To Billy Joe by Bobby Gentry. this is the song that caused the fight. i've been singing the song for years and i have my own special arrangement. i've been working out the guitar chords for it, with some help. tonight i asked my dad what he thought and i didn't get one line into the verse before i was shut down.

    "That's NOT how the song goes! That sounds awful!" admittedly i did not take this news very well. so we fought about this stupid song. and i was told that if i don't care to learn the song the proper way, then i don't have the right attitude or aptitude to learn music, and that i will fail.

    but the way i see it is... i'll never play guitar the way Mark, for example, plays piano. well, i might, but that's a long way away and it's not necessarily my goal. my dad says that if i don't want to learn the "right" way then i might as well never pick up a guitar again. but the thing is, i don't care. i probably should care. i probably should want to learn the "proper" way , or whatever. but i don't, at least not right now. at least not the way my dad wants to teach me. learning my dad's way doesn't make me happy. it doesn't fill me with joy. it just makes me feel like i'm lightyears behind and that i'll never be able to get it right. playing my way fills me with joy. it may be undisciplined, but - and i know this must be shocking news to you all - but that's just the way i am.

    it is clear that my father and i do not a meeting of the minds about this. not that he is the master of discipline! hardly.

    so it's weird. because no matter what, your parents can affect you in ways that no other people can. it's like you instantly become a child again. and i'm not used to people yelling at me. so now i'm obsessing about ALL of my failures. the incompleted master's thesis. the fact that they didn't call me yet about the job. my business that *still* isn't off the ground yet. my marginal web skills.

    all of my shortcomings that sort of nip at my heels suddenly come into focus. i even went so far as to pull out from my file drawer the data sets from my long forgotten thesis. they are sitting right here in front of me, on my desk, mocking me.

    this past year taught me many lessons about myself. i think one very fundamental aspect of who i am is a constant craving for recognition. to be special in some way. i don't have to be the best, i just want to be special. and every time i get the urge to pack up my life and run away to somewhere exotic is actually born of a need to be constantly reinventing myself. to do something in a way that nobody else has before. and to have someone... anyone... notice.

    maybe that's what it is that draws me to this web site over and over. i feel like i'm glimpsing this same trait in many of the people that come here. and somehow these things begin to make sense, in a really fucking weird way.

By Droopy on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 10:51 am:

    Keep on jammin', Sarah. And play Ode to Billy Joe any damn way you want.

By Semillama on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 11:45 am:

    sounds like the one with the problem is your dad. Tell me, what style does he play? Was he formally trained? I've noticed that there's a BIG difference btwn folks who were trained and those who taught themselves. The trained guys are pretty rigid and neophobic, while those who teach themselves are more open to experimentation.

    I think you are headed down the right trail w/ your music. I always thought that playing a song exactly how the writer did it was like painting only in the styles of other artists.

    Don't let anybody tell you how to play music, esp. guitar. You already sound like a risk taker musically, and the best musicians are that type.

    This guitar player counts you a success.

By Nate on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 12:06 pm:


    think a bit and give me the name of a great artist who didn't break any of the 'rules'.

By Jim aka PajamaBoy on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 12:21 pm:

    Fred Rodgers and his "Neighborhood?"

By Nate on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 12:53 pm:

    fuck you, you ass.

By Sarah on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 04:39 pm:

    oh good. that makes me feel better. i guess i'm going to have to buy my own guitar now. i've been learning on dad's classical, but should probably get steel string? i'm also going to buy the original sheet music to Ode to Billy Joe. but i'll keep on playing it my own way.

    i think my next song will be an original adaptation of fubar. i'm so excited.

By Semillama on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 05:24 pm:

    Yeah, get a steel string, esp if you play w/ a pick. I learned on a classical too, which i think is good, because it stretches your fingers out and therefor makes it easier to play the steel string when you switch over.

    I'm going to learn a few pixies tunes tonight for fun.

    There's also this weird thing: It may be a joke, but the local club owner wants to book us again, but we have to play an Oasis tune, because he hates them. I don't really get it, but I have always felt that anyone can do a better version of wonderwall than oasis. At least we can sing in the same key as the music is!

By Semillama on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 05:29 pm:

    a couple other things:

    as long as you're spending money, get a book called "The Guitar Handbook" It has a blue cover with guitars on it and has about everything you ever wanted to know about guitars: history, how to play, and even repair.

    also, you should really check out this website if you like learning other folks' music:

    <a href="http://rhythm.harmony-central.com">OLGA</a>

By MoonUnit on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 05:36 pm:

    I read the parody of Wonderwall the other day (Butterball) I should go find it. It was sorta funny.

By Sarah on Tuesday, March 16, 1999 - 10:19 pm:

    i already have the geetar handbook! hoooo-ah! yeah baby!

    actually, i think i'm going to learn Long Cool Woman tonight instead. heh. fubar can wait til the weekend.

    maybe i'll record and stick it up on my web site. how would i go about doing that? i'll need a mic...

By Cyst on Wednesday, March 17, 1999 - 07:34 pm:

    "constant craving for recognition." that's it.

    I feel like a little kid, the one whose mother tells other adults to ignore ("she's just doing it for attention").

    somewhere on these boards markus says something like he doesn't have a web page because he's not that immature or insecure (like the kid whose mom wants him to shut the fuck up for just a second, will ya).

    but I like it here not just because it's another place to throw a temper tantrum or scribble on the walls. sometimes I like to stop and listen for a second to what other people are saying.

    I loved rc's stories about the bomb and the guy in the grocery store. and I want to hear how agatha's pictures of the giant egg turned out.

By Sarah on Wednesday, March 17, 1999 - 08:55 pm:

    me too. have you ever seen Spiracle's art? she's got a neat photo of a ball.

By Agatha on Wednesday, March 17, 1999 - 10:40 pm:

    still haven't developed them, yet. i got two from the end of the roll, and they sucked. i get forgetful, with the way my life works sometimes.

By Antigone on Wednesday, March 17, 1999 - 11:31 pm:

    Sarah, your papa should lighten up. No self respecting musician should say that there's a "right way and a wrong way" to interpret a piece. Then again, maybe people who say that respect themselves too much, 'cause what the really mean is "do it my way." Otherwise, how could they know which way was right, right?

By Markus on Wednesday, March 24, 1999 - 06:31 pm:

    "somewhere on these boards markus says something like he doesn't have a web page because he's not that immature or insecure" [Cyst, 3/17/99]. This doesn't sound like something I'd say (though I suppose it's possible depending on context), and isn't true. The reason I don't have a "home page" is that I'm a privacy freak with little that I care for the world at large to know about me, other than what I post here. I just got back from central Florida where I went to a bunch of spring training games, and I was amazed again at the behavior of people when a camera is trained on them and projected onto the Jumbotron. I don't understand the urge to promote oneself to masses of strangers, but I don't condemn it either. I'm just not interested in reading the results.

By Cyst on Wednesday, March 24, 1999 - 07:40 pm:

    sorry if I misquoted you, markus. whoever said it (maybe I made it up myself?) was right on target, though.

By Cyst on Wednesday, March 24, 1999 - 07:58 pm:

    I really did misquote you. I did a search. can't find anyone who said it besides me.

By Delta on Wednesday, March 24, 1999 - 10:18 pm:

    it's not a total misquote, but the page has gone to archiveland. it was in response to o.b.'s pleading for peoples' home page URLs. markus then elaborated a bit on his experiences in sarajevo. weeds: Oatmeal, last year.

By R.C. on Thursday, March 25, 1999 - 02:48 am:

    But it still doesn't explain why people seem to lose their minds the minute you train a camera on them. Esp. if it's being broadcast live.

    Like all those bimbos that come on the Howard Stern Show late at nite & take off their clothes. Even time I surf by Channel 60 in the wee hours/he's got some chick there (often more than one) taking off her clothes. Or already naked. Why wd anyone go on t.v. & do that -- for free no less? If you look that good/go get naked for someone who'll pay you!

    And how come the guys who come on his show never get nekkid? I saw him interview David Duchovny once. I was PRAYING Stern wd goad him into taking off his clothes/but alas...

    Well, I hope you enjoyed Spring Training, Markus. And that you got to at least one beach while you were here.

By Markus on Friday, March 26, 1999 - 04:04 pm:

    Oh, and the other reason is that I'm lazy.

    It was a great time, R.C. And I hit the Space Coast for some rockets, besbol, and beaches. I thought that I'd totally avoid the Evil Mouse, but it turns out that the Braves' spring training stadium is in Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. Have you read Carl Hiassen's Team Rodent?

By Margret on Friday, March 26, 1999 - 05:39 pm:

    Sarah, I've tried classical guitar to limber up my hands, but I find a bass really does it!! I had 2 guitar lessons from a guy I went to college with who went to Peabody Conservatory for Grad. School in classical guitar, and he wanted to correct the way I held the guitar. At that point I was 22 and had been playing the guitar (badly) for 8 years and had my own downstroke-only-buddy-holly action going on, and had learned all the coolest pseudo-cheats for bar chords, and I was having none of it. But he was chill and we talked about music theory for a while at each meeting, and he never yelled because what did he care, he was getting some cash and some beer. Dude: wait til you get an electric guitar, amp and distortion pedal. You will sound like friggin' Eddie Van Halen or Yngwie Malmsteen or GuitarGodOfChoice to yourself. Dig this: they're much easier to play than a steel stringed acoustic. And the effects? Just plain fun.

By Sarah on Monday, April 19, 1999 - 12:57 am:

    hey man, i think i'm about a year or two away from even approaching thinking about going electric. but i like the idea a lot.

    i'm taking real lessons now. $35 for 10 lessons. each lesson is on Saturday from 10-11:30 a.m. and there are only two other women in my class. the dude teaching plays in our local guitar orchestra. he's radical. and i'm the best so far in my class.

    it's alreayd been an amazing experience. it turns out i taught myself the C major scale just from picking it out by ear. but i didn't know it was the C major scale. and now i suddenly understand why a C chord is a C chord. BINGO! connections are being made. it's so badass. i can't put the fucking thing down. all of my bar chords rock so hard, i have no fret buzzing even. just gotta practice going from regular chords to bar chords. also, my teacher said he was going to teach us how to be musicians, not just guitar players. luckily though i already read music.

    this afternoon i broke a string!

    a little while ago i played a song that i've been working for my dad and he was actually impressed. but he doesn't give me lessons anymore. it's best for both of us.

    i'm really jonsing to learn more theory. and more picking stuff. i really gotta learn my scales. i think that's the key to getting all the cool tricks down.

    also, i've found that i play the best and most comfortably when i'm sitting on the floor crosslegged or spread legged, leaning back on something. in class we sit on these benches and i don't like it.

    anyway, i gotta go play s'more now. :-) thanks for the encouragement!

By Semillama on Monday, April 19, 1999 - 11:36 am:

    Rock on Sarah! I know exactly what you mean. That first time a bit of music theory makes sense is like watching the sun rise.

By Sarah on Sunday, May 2, 1999 - 04:54 am:

    tonight something funny happened.

    i have a new roommate. she's really cool, her name is emily. and her friend Dave was over tonight and they were hanging out.

    my dad and i had dinner together and afterward i just hung out in the living room playing guitar and noodling and stuff. i'm not used to there being other people in the house. and while i was playing i became startled when i realized dave was standing behind me watching me and listening. and he sat down and started singing with me.

    dave doesn't play, but i could tell that he thought it was cool that i could play. and i just wanted to laugh because i used to be the same way. but playing is SO EASY. i mean, it's hard to be good, but if you just wanna fuck around and sing some songs, you don't have to be Beck or anything.

    though i wish i could play like him.

    anyway, the lessons are so great. learning to play classical, picking, stuff like that. it's incredible. all i wanna do now (besides surf) is sit around and play guitar.

    oh and my friend Teresa GAVE me her guitar for a year! she's moving to Santa Cruz for a year or so to work and she said i could have her guitar while she was gone. isn't that awesome? ok. my friends rock.

    so, don't laugh. promise you won't laugh? i'm learning Wish You Were Here. STOP LAUGHING! i got the chords down easy but i'm trying to do all the intro picking and stuff.

    stairway to heaven anyone? ;-)

By Margret on Sunday, May 2, 1999 - 05:48 am:

    You know what's fun to play and sing to yourself? It's really unchallenging, but you just sit down with a beer and sing "Good guys and bad guys" by Camper Van Beethoven. It's soooo much fun. A, D and E chords, that's all I'm gonna tell you cause you can sound it out super duper easy.
    I can't sight read music. I am impressed. I can kind of puzzle it out, but not quickly.

By Hungover on Sunday, May 2, 1999 - 09:10 am:

    3/4 time

    Cigarettes and whisky and

    Wild, wild women

    They'll drive you crazy they'll

    Drive you insane



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