As those following along at home know, I’ve been consciously rebuilding my guitar playing from the ground up for the past 18 months or so. It’s been a really enjoyable voyage of discovery, with many a-ha! moments
[both in finding new things, and in finding out the background to things I’d done intuitively for decades]
and not without its frustrations; the decision to just go back to what I’ve always done has floated close several times.
In that same period, our little Wednesday night shindig – Common Ground Open Mic – has gone from strength-to-strength, providing me with a route to practice what I’ve been learning, and put its feet to the fire in real-world improvisational challenges.
On balance, these have gone well – In my estimation, I’m batting at about a 60% average. I’ve received some quite lovely compliments, one last week on how I didn’t just wail away at the high end of the board, but phrased things all the way along the neck
[music to my ears]
Then a night like last night happens. I don’t know what it was, but I just wasn’t feeling it. It’s hard to tell what is cause and what is symptom: the tempo of songs, the genre of songs, the sound from my amp, the guitar I was playing – did they break me from the moment, or in breaking from the moment, did I just notice them more.
Maybe none of the above, maybe all of the above.
I felt like a grab-bag of techniques and licks, randomly thrown into incoherent sentences. I missed strings. I repeated myself.
I hate these moments, when a stranger is playing through me, a stranger who seems to want to use a guitar in a way that I never would want to.
Maybe it’s all yin-and-yang – good balancing the bad – maybe it’s all just the pain of learning, maybe it’s the universe telling me not to bother.
Hmmm, that last sentence emerged without me really thinking about it. Any artist will tell you about the moments where giving up dances tantalisingly close, where the internal critic’s voice
[often mis-attributed to the audience]
gets louder, and ever-more persistent.
But I’m not buying it. I had an off night, that’s all. I’m sorry I couldn’t bring myself into the space to which I aspire, and sometimes achieve. I’m sorry that I didn’t find transcendence in music. I’m sorry to the musicians who asked me to help them fly
[and hope I didn’t prove to be a lead weight]
I’m sorry, sure, but not enough to quit.
I had a bad night.
I’m sorry, I just wasn’t feeling it.