Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shedding dreams like dead skin

This morning I picked up the guitar, and pulled out the lyrics again. For several days I've been working at Just Looking (Stereophonics). It's not getting any easier. I've moved it down from G to D. My voice still shits itself, breaks into falsetto or comes out like Phil Anselmo.

A week ago I got dragged onstage by a mate at a jam night. It didn't feel right, it wasn't a jam night crowd. We played Karma Police, Yesterday and an original. We were messy, but in tune. I leaned into the mike and asked if anyone had a request. A woman who'd been talking the whole time next to the bar stopped and said
"Just don't play any Radiohead; I like them too much."
If there's an uglier mistress than music, I've never laid eyes on her.

When I was at private school, hating everything except music, I started to get serious about guitar. People told me I had no ability. I had nothing else. I worked and worked and one day the notes just started to flow. I was, for a little stretch where I practiced constantly, a very fine guitarist. I'd pick up a guitar at a party and people would stop and stare. In the good way.

I stayed in Darwin. My energy drained as I jammed with musician after musician who didn't like what I liked or share my dreams. I didn't get out of my bogan town.

I was accepted into law school, and classical guitar, and I went into law school.

Music poisoned my law degree, or law poisoned my music. It's so hard to tell sometimes where your dreams are really manifested, as opposed to where you stuff your neuroses- needing fame to prove everyone wrong, needing career to sate the insecurity of your parents.

These things can haunt for lifetimes.

Worse again to lose interest in an instrument and want to sing. I have this analogy I tell people:
singing is like having one guitar all your life. Some people have a Gibson. Some people have a $40 Kmart job with strings an inch off the fretboard and bits that will always buzz no matter how hard you work at it.

There are no doors in this room.


Amy said...

So here I am, wishing you a happy birthday... how many candles?

Brownie said...

Dylan cain't sing.

Armagnac Esq. said...

Oh about 21 will do, you don't want to waste money on the extra 9 or 10...

Dylan can't sing; a point wisely made on more than one level =)

Eddie Vedder had a few 'technical' issues and didn't get serious until his 30s, so I have some sources of inspiration...

Guy said...

I've got an acoustic guitar growing dust that I used to delude myself into thinking I could play not too long ago. I used to make attempts at strumming Karma Police as well.

I don't think my hands are physically big enough to play the chords that other guitarists seem to manage with relative ease.

Armagnac Esq. said...

Bet they are. It's all how you hold the neck, plus practice. Try bringing your elbow in towards your body so it's roughly perpendicular to the neck, you'll get more stretch. Then it's about practice, to strengthen in particular the little finger.

trix said...

Did you read my rants on music and musicians? Going to a conservatorium has ruined classical music for me for the rest of my life. And the oboe.

But hey, I still sing. I'm moving to Melbourne next year, so you might hear my covers band at some stage :)

Armagnac Esq. said...


Quirky. Have you thought about soprano sax? I lurve soprano sax. In the right hands (more coltrane than kenny G) of course. Think marsalis' improvisations on Sting's Pom in NY and They dance alone.

You sing? You moving to melbourne? Cool, move to Thornbury/Northcote, we have open mike nights, heaps of gigs at northcote social club (the new punters) and are officially one of the most boho suburbs in Australia.

And I'll buy you a beer, that's gotta be worth moving here for!

Armagnac Esq. said...

While I'm at it, why don't you ALL move to the 3070/71 postcodes!??

trix said...

I'm so glad you said Coltrane/Marsalis over Kenny G. You've got no idea how many times people have heard the oboe and said "oh - the David Jones music - isn't it Kenny G??". Grr.

Yes, making the big move :) Not sure where we're going to move yet, but boho IS the buzzword... and I do like beer...!

We're thinking Fitzroy. Where's 3070/71 in relation to that?

Armagnac Esq. said...

Just north. FItz is a bit gentrified, so 3070/71 is fitzroy for people on less than a solid 6 figure income.

Our little pocket is about 40% Greek, 30% artists, 20% gay (thornbury is the Lesbian capital of Australia) with a few remaining eccentrics filling in the gaps.

You couldn't go wrong I say!

Helen said...

Yarraville is just the same, only in the inner west, and you can't throw a rock without hitting a musician.

The other day, I looked up from washing dishes (our house abuts a park) and saw Ross Hannaford walk past with a greyhound.

Drummer, me. Not so much a musician as someone who hangs around with musicians.