ODY: 26/365. Tenacious D.

Hmm. “Got” the Bonanza theme might’ve been pushing it a bit. I thought I’d run through it enough that I’d remember how the innovative part ends, but I had to work it out all over again. Maybe tomorrow the tumblers will click into place. I’m now at the point where I could polish it and “A Blues Riff”, especially the latter, to sound pretty good with an hour or two of concentration. That’ll be for the weekend. But here’s the thing that might actually be interesting. (And there’s no accounting for taste, yours or mine, so here goes.)

Discipline might be a viral thing. It seems to leak beyond the boundaries of the thing being practised (and, sometimes, can be caught from the person doing the practising – this is why running backs used to go to the sand dunes for savage off-season workouts with Walter Payton, why ambitious ballplayers ought to make friends with Albert Pujols). In more youthful times, I often noticed that regular prayer and meditation were somehow easier during the days (or longer periods) where I’d worked out physically. Among other things, this puts the lie to the I haven’t got time excuse. It’s like when pro athletes publicly say “It’s not about the money”, which nearly guarantees that it most certainly IS. “It’s just that I don’t have the time”, without fail, means “I don’t really want to but I’ll never admit that to you or myself.”

So it’s 26 straight evenings on the Guitar Diet. And since I do my practice in our tiny downstairs library, I’m noticing (and getting excited by, even reading) the great books that I insulate my basement with. Furthermore, my dumbbell set has been leaning dustily against one of those bookshelves. Somehow, virally or otherwise, the I WILL of playing guitar has been transmitted to the Well, Alright of a quick set of lifts and stretches, even when I enter the library Old Dog Tired and as motivated as a plump squash. Fulfilling one promise makes the next one easier. One workout leads to another. Well, except for tonight. (And, ah, last night.)

Tomorrow should be sensational, though.

ODY: Day 11

In the hierarchy of pick-replacement technologies, even my non-musician bride – who was, it must be said, a professional dancer and actor – knows that the little plastic closures for milk and bread bags reign supreme. (My experience is that an off-beige tag from a light rye bread is outstanding.) So many tricks for this ol’ guitar dog.

Bar chords kill me, though. I’m having to move my fret fingers into position manually – literally, that is, by tugging at them with my right hand. I can either get my index finger to sit down evenly across the strings, or force fingers two through four to stay put, but not both at the same time. It’s like training several puppies simultaneously. But I can play six or seven straight notes of my little blues riff without having to look back at the cheat sheet to see where I’m going next. I also began to find the first few notes of the second part of the Bonanza theme, the part after the two dun da da dun da da da da da da dun dun DA DAs are over. Still no clue what the notes are, though.

And I now have a dedicated guitar corner down in my tiny basement library (with its lovely lilac walls). It’s right next to the dusty dumb-bells that I haven’t lifted in two months. Uh-oh.   

ODY: Day 4. Ride ’em!

It’s on its way down to 7 degrees Celsius on this August night that feels like fall. Good sleeping weather. Good Bonanza weather! Guitarzan couldn’t bear to slog through the mud of the way I make G and A chords tonight, so I started off with my inimitably mal-tuned acoustic power chords. (I haven’t figured out where to put my friggin’ elbow when I’m flailing, but flail I do.) And then as I practised picking out an individual string repeatedly, at some point I succeeded in hitting the same one six or seven times in a row, because suddenly a theme from my childhood TV sprang from MY GUITAR! What a great thing: 12 notes in a row on my chubby E was the start of a song.


Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker and Michael Landon and whoever played “Hop Sing” gathered around the campfire in my bedroom tonight, because 12 quick plucks on any string (except maybe A, something wasn’t right there) and at any fret point sounds a little like the beginning of the Bonanza theme. (Ask your father.) Then I had to mess around to find a couple more notes, and I had the first part. YEE! I found ways to play it with any two consecutive strings, and began to see what the Teen Vegan Punk-Rock Intellectual (my “teach-Dad-a-lesson”-er) meant by the fifth fret. (Does that take it up an octave? Whatever it does, it allowed me to find that high note at the end of the first phrase of the song.) I also found out how to play the thing on one string; heck, I can play it on any string! Just not very fast, or very well, but I was tickled rosy.

I even got parts of it using power chords, though it sounded like I was playing in a cave under water. Who cares? I found such utter delight in the child’s play of figuring out a simple tune. Only the first two phrases, mind you; it gets a little more musical after that opening hoofbeat melody. But as the TVPI had counselled me: “Play songs. You gotta play songs.” Right agin, perfesser! I’ll be back on the trail tomorrow.