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February 25, 2008

Not To Be Picky, But...

This weekend I really struggled with "Taylor". I've been learning to play it without a pick, but on Saturday I decided that maybe I should use one after all. Changing horses mid-race was not a good idea! Forward one step, back two. As of Sunday night I've reverted to playing it with my fingers, but it means I've made no progress. As mentioned before, I have to show "Teach" how far I've got with it this Saturday. Given that I'm not going to get to practice as much as I'd like to this week, I'm up against it.

On Sunday night I re-watched the Classic Albums series "Disraeli Gears" episode. Once again I was struck by how often Eric Clapton admitted that they basically took other people's songs and re-did them, Cream style. Case and point was "Strange Brew" which was simply a reworking of a traditional blues "Lawdy Mama", which the band had already covered on a previous recording. Back in the day I would have thought that this was cheating, but frankly, if you can take a tune and make it your own then hey, go for it. After all, look at the famous intro lick from "Layla", often attributed to Duane Allman. Well, that lick was a direct copy of Albert King's "As the Years Go Passing By", only speeded up to change it from blues to rock. Same notes played in a different style and tempo equals different song.

This time round I took time to watch the bonus features on the DVD. They were mostly solo performances by each band member. Actually very cool and I can see myself transcribing a couple of Eric's performances and learning them myself. I jammed along to Jack Bruce's piano version of "We're Not Right". Turns out Jack and I would make a good duo. I don't recall hitting a single bum note, even though I've never tried playing along to it before.

In other news, two vaguely music related web thingys I came across recently are "Pandora Radio" and "Stumble Upon". Pandora is a neat take on internet radio, in that you can 'make' your own channels. All you have to do input a song or an artist that you like and Pandora creates a 'station' of songs in a similar style. Right now the stations I've created include the following 5 channels:

You Am I Radio
Placebo Radio
Rebirth Brass Band Radio
Freemasons Radio
Eddie Bo Radio

There are quite a few more in my list, but I'm not sure I'm ready to admit to all of them!!!!

Stumble is something entirely different. It's a collection of websites that other people have tagged as being 'cool'. While not specifically music related, you can search for pages about guitars, the blues etc. Had lots of fun looking at their tattoo pages. Some pretty neat stuff and definitely inspiration for my next 'inking'... which'll be a big one!

Lastly for the weekend, I'm 99% sure I spotted Pete Doherty of The Libertines/Babyshambles (and every single tabloid in the UK) fame in our hood on Sunday. If it wasn't him then it was someone doing a damn good impression. Trademark hat, very pale, stumbling, blank yet bemused look on his face.

I'll admit that to date I've actively avoided listening to any of his music as I don't have time for people who are famous simply for being (in)famous. Having seen the boy in the flesh, though, I felt compelled to listen to some samples on iTunes. I was surprised to find that his stuff didn't sound half bad! Perhaps a little derivative, but given what I just wrote about Cream...

London's great if you enjoy celeb spotting. You can barely go 10 feet without tripping over one! In the past year we've run into everyone from Danny DeVito (Taxi) and wife Rea Pearlman (Cheers) to Matt Lucas (Little Britain)... Michael Barrymore... some of the Derek Trucks Band... okay, so that was outside their last London gig, so perhaps that doesn't count... they had to be there...

"Taylor" notwithstanding, I'm actually feeling really positive and upbeat about my guitar playing right now. I genuinely feel like I should be in a band now. NOW! I listen to a lot of stuff that's out there and I know deep down that I really could 'do that'. I'm bound to fall flat on my face from time to time, but so f**king what, eh? Live and learn. My first 's**t or get off the pot' deadline is coming up soon, where I have to find some way to 'get out there'. I actually feel confident that I'm not going to make a complete a**e of myself for once! Mastering an instrument always has highs and low points, but you just have to keep on going and put some faith in the future.

What put me in such an optimistic mood? Bizarrely it was from re-reading Duane Allman's self-penned epitaph:

"I love being alive and I will be the best man I possibly can. I will take love wherever I find it and offer it to everyone who will take it - seek knowledge from those wiser - and teach those who wish to learn from me" (source: "Skydog: The Duane Allman Story" By Randy Poe)

I often feel like I was born into the wrong time. Duane's epitaph may sound very 70's hippy-chick, but it feels so much like 'me'. I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into this world a few short days after the fires of Woodstock died down in August 1969, the same year that the Allman Brothers Band recorded their first studio album. Music and life have changed so much since those days, morphing from something real, grounded in the now, into a disposable commercial product, bought and paid for on credit. Perhaps I need to add another bullet point onto the Fillmore Five Project Action Plan:

5) Change The World.

1 comment:

Lucia @ Pandora said...

Thanks for listening to Pandora, Kenski! We're glad to hear that you're enjoying it.

Have you checked out our musicology podcasts? You might really like them. The most recent one is about the Blues Scale. You can subscribe to them for free in iTunes too, if you like.

- Lucia, from Pandora