Finally! February is over and it's time for a fresh start to March. I can't really begin to convey how much I despise February. It drags on and on and everything around you tends to get boring and repetitive.
Even in music news, it seems like the past few weeks were particularly slow and repetitious. Well, maybe not slow per se, but nothing too out of the ordinary went down. For instance, this week we had the expected Dave Mustaine banter
, an aging rocker criticizing aspects of modern music
, Noel Gallagher
taking a verbal dump
on another pop musician... Pretty much business as usual.
And thus I'm bitching. I know this. But no more! Let's leave the doldrums of February music news and get a little more optimistic. Instead of picking apart the latest Dave Mustaine rhetoric or trying to justify merit in modern music, I want to keep things simple this week. We're gonna change it up a bit and get nostalgic. And I want you all to participate.
To give you a burst of inspiration to start off the livelier month of March, let's think back to the times when the guitar was the most exciting:
What was the first song/riff you learned on guitar and what made you want to play guitar in the first place?
Think back to the initial months when you first picked up a guitar. Try to mentally put yourself back to the age when guitar first captured your interest. What attracted you to the instrument? How did you feel when you were able to play through that first song start to finish? Then, in the comment section, tell your story.
On December 8th, 2000 the 20th anniversary of John Lennon's death I attended my first real rock concert. It was a festival show put together by a local Philly rock station, the now defunct Y100
, and the lineup consisted of Good Charlotte
, The Wallflowers
, and Live
. That night, my virgin eyes and ears were penetrated and impregnated with a love for everything rock and roll, especially the guitar. I remember the bands appeared larger-than-life and produced what I observed as an extremely loud and in-your-face musical energy. By my 13-year-old standards, they were all extremely badass. Yeah, even Good Charlotte, as much as it pains me to say it now that I know better
I knew then that I wanted to play guitar. The thought of playing in front of large audiences, having complete control of the energy in a room, having girls take off their tops during your guitar solos (yes, I was lucky enough to see that at my first show! ), and getting paid to do so seemed like the greatest job possible.
So I put "Electric Guitar (not Bass)" on my Christmas wish list. My wish came true when I walked down the stairs Christmas morning a few weeks later and saw a Peavey
combo amp and a Fender Stratocaster
sitting next to the tree. It was the best present my parents ever gave me... aside from the whole birth, shelter and food thing.
I soon started lessons at a local music shop, eager to learn the instrument and emulate the guitarists I had seen a few weeks before. The first song I learned was "Technical Difficulties
" by Paul Gilbert
. I was naturally and immediately that good.
Nah, I'm a jokester. It was actually "Basket Case
" by Green Day
, which, looking back, was a great way to start off. My teacher wrote out a chord chart with simple power chord diads and "Basket Case" helped me get comfortable with shifting the simple chord shape around the neck. The following week, keeping it Green Day, I learned "Good Riddance
" to get the open chords down.
The first time I was able to play through the entire song, I went absolutely nuts, thinking, "Ah, so this is how it works! Dear Lord, this is the coolest thing I've ever done!
" Heh heh... I was cool. It almost made my preteen awkwardness and puberty pudge fall to the wayside. I felt cool playing it. Guitar was sexy. And I was hooked.
Common First Riffs And Songs
So I've been asking this question to a bunch of my fellow guitarists over the past few days to find out what songs and riffs they tackled first and why they were drawn to the instrument first place.
A little Facebook research revealed some common tunes. These included, "Save Tonight
" by Eagle Eye Cherry
, "Seven Nation Army
" by THe White Stripes
, "Enter Sandman
" by Metallica
, "Smells Like Teen Spirit
" by Nirvana
, "Brain Stew
" by Green Day
, "Back In Black
" by AC/DC
, and of course, "Smoke On The Water
" by Deep Purple
One roommate of mine, after thinking about the question for a few seconds, remembered that his uncle taught him "My Girl
" by The Temptations
, which got him familiar with open chords. It was also his uncle who exposed him to flamenco guitar, specifically the virtuosic guitar duo, Strunz and Farah
. He fell in love, and guitar apparently loved him back because he's now almost done getting his master's degree in classical guitar.
I also consulted with my shred-tastic chums in The Human Abstract
about these questions. The dreaded Dean Herrera
went with "Smells Like Teen Spirit", while Maestro A.J. Minette
claimed that the first song he ever learned was a tune by his older brother's band. Watching his older brother rock out was what inspired him to pick up the instrument. Another friend cited an acoustic song that had only 4 chords, and his reasoning for picking up the guitar was because he wanted to play like Bob Dylan
and sing along.
So it seems that although there are some common songs that many guitar players learn initially, the stories of inspiration are quite varied. Type out your stories and your songs, and for extra fun, I'll tally up your comments and determine what song is the most universally first-learned song. I'm guessing it'll probably be something by Jeff Loomis
And also, if you want to give your playing a kick in the 'nads this weekend, go back and recall the first song you learned on guitar. Even if you pretty much forget how to play it, try forcing yourself to remember it through your muscle memory. It's still there. And then play the f--ker like you never played it before.
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
, clearly off his rocker, reveals that in addition to speaking with ghosts
, he's currently working on a new concept album with the Easter Bunny and the Lucky Charms Leprechaun.
After winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song, Flight Of The Conchords
' Bret McKenzie
admits he was disappointed when he realized his stage name, "The Rhymenoceros"
, wasn't engraved on his Oscar.
Following his decision to "quit music
" due to harsh fan criticism, Fall Out Boy
singer Patrick Stump
visits a psychiatrist and is prescribed a heavy dose of "Man The F-ck Up".
By Zach Pino