Learning the guitar and writing.


Since about September last year I have been learning to play the guitar. I don’t think I’m doing very well but then I never do. But it has struck me how much like writing learning the guitar is.

Firstly, progress is always painfully slow. I sincerely wish I could pick up the guitar one day and play like Hendrix the next but that’s never going to happen. It’s endless hours of practise that improves one’s playing and nothing else. I have heard rumours that if you go down to the crossroads and sell your soul to a tall dark gentleman with horns and a tail, then your ability can drastically improve very quickly but that’s too high a price to pay in my book. But there are so many other things to do in life and so many times when the last thing you feel like doing is writing or practising the guitar.

And when you’re learning anything new is can be so disheartening. As someone who suffers with a lot of self doubt, I never think I’m doing enough or doing it properly. I feel guilty if I don’t practise the same as if I don’t write. At least I have a guitar teacher to give me a small sense of perspective. He’s always a lot more enthusiastic about my playing than I am. But with writing, it’s much harder to get perspective and I’m sure all writers are familiar with the feeling that every thing they write is probably garbage and how they feel they’re probably wasting their time doing this.

However, when a break through does occur and something goes well, the feeling of achievement is monumental. Music, writing and creativity in general is, despite the difficulties and setbacks, such a joy. With the guitar, my aim is to be good enough to be in a band. With the writing, I want to be a successful published author. What I really want is some sort of public vindication. Yes, a best selling novel or a grammy awarded album would be great but what I really want is for people to like what I do. I want my creativity to be appreciated. Surely that’s not too much to ask?

Image from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

ROW80 Check-In 21/07/2013

Warning!  1

Well I only had one goal and the news I have to report is…epic fail! I have only typed about two pages last week when I should have done seven! Looking on the bright side, I suppose two pages is better than nothing at all.

It’s all that Mike Young’s fault because he was talking once about doing free online courses and being a (nosy cow) intellectually curious person, I looked up the site. Oh dear! What a cornucopia of treats! Here’s the link for anyone that wants it. https://www.coursera.org/courses

Anyway, I signed up for a beginner’s guitar course. I have always wanted to play the guitar and started back when I was fourteen but found it hard going and gave up, something I have always regretted. Since then I read this book called Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice by Matthew Syed. Like so many others I believed that people where born talented and so when I picked up the guitar and couldn’t play like Hendrix I thought, I’m just no good at this and gave up.

But in this book the author explains that no-one comes out of the womb doing incredible stuff. We learn things through doing them over and over again, by practising. If I had known that when I was younger then I might be the axewoman cometh by now. How annoying!

The author reckons that to get really good at something you have to spend ten thousand hours doing it. Well I’ve started my ten thousand hours on the guitar this week. It’s going to be a long road but this time I’m determined to learn to play the thing! So not much news on the writing front but more about music. My dream would be to combine my love of writing and music and learn to write my own songs! I’d be in seventh heaven if I could do that!

Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison 1

Today is the anniversary of the death of Jim Morrison; he died on July 3rd 1971. Now I realise that in some respects he is not the most admirable of people. He was essentially, an alcoholic who beat up his girlfriend. Now I never have and never will condone violence against women (or men) but I do realise that alcoholism is an illness that does tend to bring out the worst in people. It certainly did in Jim Morrison.

And yet. He was and still is, a music business legend and a rock God. He did have an immense talent as a rock performer and a poet and writer. And my God, was he sexy! In his younger days he was easily the sexiest lead singer the music business ever produced.

Now for some time I’ve been planning to write a book loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the life of Jim Morrison because he strikes me as one of those larger than life characters that you normally only come across in books. You might not want to live with the guy but as a character in a book, he’s absolutely perfect. He has all the conflict you could ever need before he’s even stepped outside the door!

So if we accept ourselves as all that we are with the good points and bad points then I think we can accept Jim for all the darkness and light that he had. RIP Jim Morrison.

And who said good thing don’t last!


This is a video from You-Tube of one of my all time favourite bands, which is, of course, The Rolling Stones.

I don’t care if they’ve been around for ages; that just proves how good they are.  So many artists in the music business are here today and gone tomorrow so to be around for fifty years is one hell of an achievement.

And yes, the stuff they did in the sixties and early seventies is the best stuff but they can still rock out today, better than most younger bands can as well.  I first hear the Stones when I was about fifteen and I loved them straight away.  I’m now forty-seven and I still love them just as much.

Long may they roll!

John Lennon and Blogging for Peace

john lennon stampforpeace6

As part of the Blogging for Peace thing you agree to do one post a month on the subject of peace and so this is my January Peace blog.  I thought I do a bit about John Lennon because it seemed appropriate.

Now I don’t think John Lennon was a paragon of virtue who led a blameless life by any means but I do think he did some good in getting people to think about peace.  Through his extremely high public profile he was able to influence a huge amount of people into looking for means to resolve our differences without violence.

Now its arguable how much effect he had in practical terms but there is no doubt that his influence on people was largely beneficial.  Through songs such as Imagine, Happy Christmas (War is Over) and Give Peace a Chance he used to music to try and make the world a better place.  I was going to use bits of those songs on this blog but I’m frightened of getting sued so decided against it!

So whether you are or aren’t a fan of John Lennon, all I am saying is give peace a chance.

I want to be a rock star!


When I was young (yes, I was young once!) the only thing I wanted was to be a rock star.  And not just any old rock star but the greatest rock star ever!  I wanted to be as sexy as Jim Morrison in his younger days before he got fat and bearded, as smart as Mick Jagger, to dance like Michael Jackson, write songs like Bob Dylan, play guitar like Jimmy Page and sing like Janis Joplin!

Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out and I soon discovered that playing the guitar is a lot harder than it looks and my voice would make pancakes look like the Himalayas!  But I can still dream which is why one of my favourite games is Guitar Hero.  And I love that song by Nickelback!


My Favourite Band

There are some things in life that are important; like love, family and Led Zeppelin.  They are just my favourite band.  The trouble with Zep is, to my mind, they have the habit of making a lot of other music sound insipid.  I enclosed two photos to make sure that every member of the band was included as a lot of people seem to think that bands begin and end with the lead vocalist or they might just squeeze in the lead guitarist as well.  I think that it’s mean to treat the rhythm section (and arguably the most important part of the band) that way.

As with everything we all have our favourites, even within bands and much though I love Bonzo and J.P. and Rob, it is Jimmy who is my main man.  He and I have more in common than he probably knows.  We both can’t swim and don’t drive.  We both have Scorpio Rising and the Moon in Cancer and we’re both practising Occultists.  Of course, Jimmy’s bank balance is, unfortunately, a lot larger than mine but I’m working on that.

Why Music on the Internet Shouldn’t Be Free

I know there are people out there (who I call idiots) who think all music on the net should be free but I think that is a ridiculous idea!  When you call a plumber round to your house to unblock your drains, you can’t just decide not to pay him.  If you have a meal in a restaurant and decide to walk out without paying, the owners will call the police!  The restaurant and the plumber have provided you with a service that you are expected to pay for.  They don’t work for free.  So why anyone thinks that musicians should work for free is beyond me!  Regardless of whether they’re Jimmy Page or Joe Bloggs, the principle is the same.  I realise that Jimmy could probably afford to work for free but why should he?  Would any of these people who are moaning about free music on the net agree to work for free?  I doubt it!

There will be those who say that it is freedom of expression and they should be able to download music for free (pirate copies) because of that.  But pirating people’s work is nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with ripping people off!  You can legally copy a film or album if you are only backing it up for personal use but if you try to sell them then you are breaking the law!  Being a musician can be a hard life with life on the road amongst other hardships.  There is no way that they should put up with all that and not even get paid.  That’s just stupid and unfair.

The King

Today is the anniversay of the death of Elvis Presley.  As anyone with taste and distinction will recognise, this was a tragic loss, not just because he was arguably the greatest male vocalist ever but because he was a decent man.  Everything I’ve heard about him has been good apart from perhaps his eating habits.  He had impeccable manners, never trashed hotel rooms or bad maouthed journalists, he didn’t get involved in fist fights or slap his girlfriend/wife around.  If the worst thing you can say about someone is that he ate too much then he can’t have been that bad.  It’s a pity that a great many of the so-called stars of today don’t behave with the same degree of civility as Elvis.  He truly was The King.