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Frontman Roots

September 10, 2009

I just thought I’d start the ball rolling with traditional blog style chat.

The first time I picked up an instrument it was the violin and I was seven. I only picked it up, I didn’t actually get to play it and this isn’t the story of some child prodigy. I loved the sound of it getting tuned – it’s cool – it’s like the beginning of Purple Haze. My junior school only had six to offer to the pupils it described as being the most gifted. I often feel I’m never one of the “gifted” and can often be heard moaning on about when the gods made the queues to pick up gifts and talent I misread the maps and headed straight for the exit. This time I was told that my fingers were going to be too chubby to play violin. Clearly violin teachers know nothing about biology because I now have a hand span large enough to hold basketball; that’s a nine fret span on guitar. I remember moping around for at least the afternoon break before realising there were more important things to do like making planes and working out who would win in a fist fight between my mum and all three of Bananarama.
Music starts with my mum whom at one stage in her life was a singer. Her career ended in one of two ways : having children ; or the version I prefer which is that she had a frisky manager who started some sort of Benny Hill style chase around a sofa until he figured out my mum’s not the casting-couch type. She used to play a truck load of Motown: Percy Sledge, Gladys Night and the Pips ; The Temptations – doing your homework whilst hearing the bassline to Midnight Train to Georgia through the floor of our house is an all time classic memory for me.
One of my mum’s work colleagues played guitar and offered to teach me. He turned up at our house looking like a Spanish Brian Ferry and had, what must’ve been, a Honer guitar for chumps like me to practice on. His axe looked every bit as uncool as Val Doonican’s sweater; he must’ve been a friend of his. He taught me my first chords and I hated every minute of it: as my fingers hurt whilst trying to finger the A chord and get a sound out; he peppered every string pluck or squeak of mine with folksy round offs and glib endings. I just glared back at him thinking he was making me look terrible in front of my dad but he mistook my glare for the wild-eyed stare of a guitarist concentrating on getting the licks down.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian permalink*
    September 10, 2009 11:02 am

    Takes me back to when I first picked up my dad’s old acoustic and wrapped selotape round my fingers so that I could play without cutting my fingers to bits… Damned thing had an action starting at about 5mm and going up to nearly an inch!

  2. Chris permalink
    September 21, 2009 1:23 pm

    I remember picking up my dad’s electric guitar and not understanding why it didn’t sound like when he played it. Oh and I ripped the skin off my fingers. Didn’t know he used a pick.

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