Hi there friends.
This is a long post that will seem to have no bearing on your life or problems whatsoever, but hang with me. There is a take-away point near the end!
Some of you know this, but probably many don’t. From a young age, I wanted to play guitar. I had no idea why – it just seemed really cool. My parents got me a guitar as a kid, and I hammered around on it, but nothing came of it. When I was 17, I was hanging around with a girl I kind of liked, and she played guitar. Watching her do so, I became more enchanted by her guitar playing than with her feminine guile and mystique! What?? Anyway, she played Stairway To Heaven, and I was sold – hook, line, and sinker. I asked if she could teach me that, and she agreed. I learned the opening riff and a little bit more, and then we kind of went our separate ways. But she set me on a course, and I am forever grateful for that. A similar thing happened with piano, but that’s a story for another day, heh heh. Anyway, I got myself a cheap guitar, and like the Bryan Adams song, I literally “played until my fingers bled,” putting little “dot” band-aids on my fingertips so I could keep learning. But at some point, although I kept learning SOME new things, I became satisfied to keep playing the same old thing, year after year, thinking that just being a hacker was all I was capable of.
Don’t get me wrong – I improved over the years, wrote some songs, recorded a few, and had LOTS of fun playing, sometimes even for groups of friends. But a few years ago, I got tired of the status quo and decided it was time to learn me some REAL guitar playing. I wanted to learn the secret to playing the awesome solos that were seared into my brain during my adolescence – Jimmy Page, Ulrich Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Glenn Tipton, and many others. I wanted and needed to take it to another level. I found an excellent guitar teacher – Eric Bourassa in Fort Worth, Texas – and over the course of about a year or two, he opened a whole new world for me. Some things happened and I had to stop those lessons, but I am forever grateful to that awesome young man for setting me on course to an even higher level of knowledge and playing.
So, then I continued on my own, and started learning some famous solos on Youtube – Shook Me All Night Long (ACDC), Lights (Journey), Reeling In The Years (Steely Dan), Rosanna (Toto), etc. This was exciting and fun, and I was like “why didn’t someone show me this years ago!!??” Then one day, one of the youtube teachers emailed me about something that had somehow never really reached my consciousness before – Jimi Hendrix. I stumbled across him doing a free lesson on a Hendrix tune, and I was like, “What the hell??? How did I not know about this before???” It was just like the night I got dragged to a jazz club by a girl I was dating – JR’s Place, off of Camp Bowie, 1982 – when I heard a piano solo and just KNEW I had to learn piano! But again, that’s a story for another day, heh heh. Bottom line – I was completely mesmerized.
Short story long, I got me some Hendrix lessons from this guitar instructor, and decided to devote the rest of this year (2016) to learning Hendrix Style. It’s like eight hours of instruction, but the actual learning of that eight hours takes approximately 10 times that long, so about 80 hours (or more). I have come to realize that at that point, when I complete it, THEN I will be able to say, “Jimi Hendrix was sort of a genius savant type guy.” He is untouchable!! I’ll be a WAY better guitar player just from memorizing a lot of his stuff, but I’ll only scratch the surface of guitar coolness.
Now, I could lament that it took me so long to get going on this, but you know what? “Life” gets in the way sometimes, eh? But here’s the main point I wanted to make with this blog entry: My advice for ME, at 56 years of age, is to just keep going and do the best I can, with whatever skills I have and whatever time I have left, and be the best I can be. I’m enjoying the heck out of learning about this amazing guitar player, and hopefully I’ll reach a point of sharing that with others in some way. But my advice to others – especially young folks – would be this: do NOT grow old and die with your music or poetry or writing or adventures or bucket list still in you. Please, for the LOVE OF GOD (channeling my inner Chris Farley), figure out what your gifts and talents are and just friggin’ GO for it. If you have something burning inside of you that needs expression (and I’m talking healthy things here, of course, not some unhealthy obsession!), then I urge you to pursue that in some way. Even if it is not full-time, even if it’s just a few hours late at night or on the weekends, step out in faith and go for it, to whatever degree is possible for you. You only get one shot at this life my friends, so you really should consider living it out in a way that makes you happy. Again, I’m not talking about being an irresponsible boob – do what you have to do to make a living, right? But one way or another, please find a time and make a way to follow your passions to some level at the same time.
As my favorite quote from Dead Poet’s Society (taken from David Thoreau) says: “I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. To put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.” My friends, do not risk coming to the end of your life, only to realize that you had not really lived. Go for it.
With love and peace and blessings, Dr. Jim