Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting My Head On Straight

I am emerging from a fog. A fog of guitar-playing, Youtube posting, and wanting to launch a local solo performing career, a notion that bit me, oh, about three weeks ago, when I quit my rock band.

As fun as music is, I need to get my head on straight. I have been writing for far longer, with far more success than I have been performing or playing the guitar. And I can't let all that go by the wayside. I remind myself that I have aspirations of crafting good stories, having a novel good enough to attract an agent, and ultimately, publication.

What will it take for me to make this happen?

Write. Write. Write.

I still aim to perform this December at a couple of small, local events, but other than that, I have to put my writer hat back on.

Because it is the "write" thing for me to do. And published novelists rock!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guitar Shopping

This past Saturday, I stopped at a guitar store with my girls on the way home to check out acoustic electric guitars. We passed a crowd of spiky hair, tattooed, be-ringed goth-types to get into a smaller room of acoustic guitars.

I wish I could spring for one of the ones in an even smaller room, the thousand dollar ones and then some, but I couldn't so I focused on the 200-500 dollar range ones. Relieved to see that more isn't necessarily better. I tried a 600 dollar one and I didn't like its sound. I also decided I don't like the smaller Ovations. Too weird to cradle almost-nothing in my lap.

I really liked the Fender All Dao. The salesman also tried to tempt me with a used 100 W amp for 175, which has 3 inputs and 1 output. I giggled at the irony if I would have gone home with an amp but without the guitar to plug in it. I would absolutely love to have both at the same time, but I really should focus on the guitar first...I can always borrow an amp if I need to.

So with superdiscipline, I said thank you and left the store empty-handed to sleep on it.

At church today, I told our choir director that if she ever needed an alto for a special number at the Christmas program, I would be willing to sing.

A first for me, saying that I am willing to sing at a church program. Whether or not they ask me, we'll see, but at least I said I would.

I filmed myself singing Teardrops on My Guitar because a friend requested it. After several aborted attempts, posted it on a certain social network. Then I checked out other Youtube covers of the song; considered posting it there. Ah, never mind. There are some really great singers - it's a popular song to cover - and I do not want to open myself up to ridicule by strangers.

Listening to some Youtube videos of guitarists, I cringe at my amateurish attempts. Who am I kidding? I have a long, long way to go.

I suppose I could just stop right here and say, I should stick to writing, but a part of me still wants to perform. What I need is some time and patience with myself. And a nicer guitar.

Friday, October 16, 2009


"The past is a great place and I don't want to erase it or to regret it, but I don't want to be its prisoner either." - Mick Jagger

"Don't dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer." - Denis Waitley

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." - Walt Disney

I Have It. Bad.

There has got to be an OCD term for wanting to play guitar all the time because I have it. Bad.

Deep breath, Jewel. You need some balance.

But you know, Taylor Swift had it, too. That obsession, I mean. When she discovered guitar, she played until her fingers bled and her mother taped them for her before she went to school.

My fingers are just hard-callused, so I don't have it as bad. I wonder what my life would be like now if I had discovered guitar as a teenager.

Speaking of Taylor Swift, I googled Teardrops On My Guitar yesterday and found a GCDEm version which was heaven to play and sing. If my teenage daughter, who loves Taylor Swift songs, was impressed, she didn't show it. Maybe she was just trying to be ultra-cool.

I also found Ain't No Sunshine. Oooh. Very nice.

The fun thing about accompanying myself is I can sing songs at my range right off. And even the strumming pattern can be part of expressing the song. I thought karaoke was the cat's meow, but now I know better.

I don't know how my kids feel about my latest diversion/obsession. I sing lullabies to them now with the guitar; I've come a long way from my muddy chords three months ago. I think my son is intrigued by the instrument, and we've talked about me teaching him how to shred, I mean, play the guitar; maybe when I replace my current guitar, I'll have him learn on it. My oldest is always playing the piano when there is down time, so I suspect she can relate to my love of guitar.

Last night, I was going to have guitar class, but it would have just been me, so the teacher gave me the option of just attending next week's.

(I am such a flake about this class thing. I want to learn through class, but honestly, I feel like I am learning just by playing songs. What I really want is to perform with the class, so maybe I could just focus on lining up opportunities for me to perform solo in public? Sigh. I cannot make up my mind.)

So I opted to not go, and instead as a family on a rare open week-night, we went out to eat to celebrate my hubby's birthday.

I loved being with my family. I loved not having such a late Thursday. I know it's for the best, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Thursday night band practice. Maybe not so much the politics, which is just part of being in a group. But the musical give-and-take and that rush from a weekly "performance". I admit to being disappointed that they have moved on and I am, well, dispensable. But really, what did I expect? Maybe I will have to google the David Lee Roth support group.

After practicing pretty much weekly for the last six months, I suppose my system has to adjust to this loss of routine. Thank goodness for my own singing and guitar playing, or I'd probably have a harder time of it.

More songs on my "can play" list:

Bubbly - Colbie Caillat
Teardrops On My Guitar - Taylor Swift
Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
Poems, Prayers and Promises - John Denver

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I went to the music store yesterday and found Colbie Caillat's song Bubbly for piano/vocal/guitar. It seemed simple enough, and I was really excited to try it at home. At the end of the day, when things settled enough that I could play, I discovered it wasn't as simple as I thought. So I simplified the chords, and it began to enter the realm of possibility. Then I googled it on Ultimate Guitar and found chords for the key of A.


I fingerpicked the first part, and it made me giddy. It sounds like the song on the radio. Well, not exactly, but close. The power went out and I kept playing by flashlight. When the light came on, I sounded better, since I could actually find the chords on my guitar. I love this song!

So far, songs I can play:
Tears of Heaven - Eric Clapton
Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell
Let it Be - The Beatles
Stand by Me - Ben King
That'll be the Day - Buddy Holly
Wishing on a Star - yours truly
Grandma's Feather Bed - John Denver
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Nights in White Satin - Moody Blues
Tennessee Waltz - my parents' theme song
Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - well, Christmas is coming up
O Little Town of Bethlehem

Songs I want to learn:
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
New York State of Mind - Billy Joel
The Best Day - Taylor Swift
White Horse - Taylor Swift
The Climb - Miley Cyrus
Landslide - Stevie Nicks
Like a Lighthouse - Michael Webb
La Bamba - Ritchie Valens
When I'm 64 - The Beatles
Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
It's So Easy - Linda Ronstadt
Give Me One Reason - Tracy Chapman

My musical goals:
Buy a good acoustic/electric guitar and amp
Perform at my guitar class' December recital
Perform at church talent show
Apply to perform at local music series
Write another song

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Guitar Class

Last night, I checked out an intermediate guitar class. There would have been three other students, too, but they were caught in a traffic mess on the freeway, so it was just me, the guitar teacher (GT) and an 11 year-old girl I will call E. My self-consciousness about my cheap guitar evaporated when my guitar seemed pretty much in synch with GT's.

We went over three songs, Let it Be, Horse With No Name and Margaritaville. G-C-D chords, I know already, so I chafed a little when GT would pause between chords for E to catch up.

Horse with No Name only has *gasp* two chords?? Dadd6add9 is just two notes on the guitar fret. The chord names look scarier than they actually are. How can people get away with making money off of a song with only two chords? :-) It will be fun to sing and play it since I already know the lyrics from my former rock band.

After class, I played Big Yellow Taxi for GT and sang it. E harmonized in the background. We got talking and I told him I just barely quit a rock band. E said, "I play Rock Band!"

I wish the class was a little more challenging than G-D-C songs, but it will be good for me to go back to basics. I'll take it a month at a time. This block runs for three months, with a concert recital in December. Whether or not I take the class, the guitar school says I can perform with them. They also perform occasionally at the senior center and other venues, and that'll be fun.

I am leaning towards returning to this class next week (since the advanced classes meet when I can't go), see if it'll be a bit more fun with FC, a lady in her 50's who likes to play similar stuff as me. Next week, we'll learn some tab work, which I really don't know how to do.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Paying Gig

We rocked a military base last night. Click here for my recap.

Our playlist:

Big Me
All Day and All Night
What I Like About You
Lean On Me
I Can't Tell You Why
House of the Rising Sun
My Baby Lies (written by R)
Pork and Beans
Sunshine of Your Love
Horse With No Name
Like a Hurricane
All Your Love
What's So Funny
Stand by Me
Wishing on a Star (written by me)
Bad Drivers (written by L)
It's So Easy
I Love Rock N Roll
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
It Makes No Difference
Message in a Bottle
Rocking in the Free World