ODY: Day 7. Time for Another Lesson

Another son – so many young men with a thing or thirty to tell me! – advises that there is indeed a C chord. I can recycle my “Old Man and the C” pun. And there are chords A through G, minor and major, a distinction that I can often hear but don’t understand in musical or theoretical ways. In other words, I don’t know how or why the Fretful Fingers do their thing. I think it would be best, though, to not think too much about the WHY of things.

I remember my high school biology teacher, the inscrutably marvellous Mr. Cook, teaching us about human development, of individuals and of the species as a whole. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. He would explain mechanisms and cycles and I would want to know why. “These are metaphysical questions,” Herr Cook replied. I felt proud that I nearly knew what “metaphysical” meant. Among other things, it meant that asking why isn’t always a useful thing. 

Asking WHY is a great substitute for learning HOW. Then I get to think and talk about playing instead of playing. Do it now and understand it later. Okay. Having said that, the fingering makes no sense to me at all. I spent most of tonight’s session, another late-night bonanza, drumming on the body of the beast. I did this partly because I’m a bit lost for things to do – I definitely need another lesson – and partly because I’m trying not to worry about that. It was rather meditative, actually. I was getting to know my broken-necked Dégas guitar.


I also like percussion. I’ve drummed on every school desk I’ve ever inhabited, including sudden and startling rolls on my teacher desk whenever it was time to switch gears in class (or wake the dead). Percussive string action in guitarists has always fascinated me, and so I banged up and down the neck in more and less rhythmic ways. I tapped the fret guard and all over and around the body. On my mind was the tapping James Seals used to do on his guitar, which was pretty distinctive even on a love song like “Diamond Girl” or the earlier “‘Cause You Love”. It was one of his things. (He was an odd and often quite beautiful writer, was James Seals, and a great musician. Early Seals and Crofts albums are collectors’ items now, but worth looking for.) And I strummed and G-ed and power chorded, but mostly I beat on my Dégas like a drum.