I have been playing guitar for fifty-two years and I have always been a rhythm guitarist. Lying in bed this morning I started thinking about why that is.
Well, for one thing I’m not a good enough lead guitarist to play lead. But it’s not that; I love playing rhythm.
I started playing guitar because I was excited by the music I was hearing, on the radio (occasionally), on TV (even more occasionally) and on record. When I think back to the records that made an impression, a big part of their effect was due to the rhythm – Bo Diddley, The Kinks, The Beatles – and I wanted to be able to play those rhythms.
So, when I was fourteen, my parents bought me a guitar for Christmas, a small, steel string acoustic. Of course I didn’t know how to play it or tune it or even that you could get different notes by using the fingers of your left hand (I’m right-handed) to make chords. I didn’t even know what chords were. I moved my thumb across the strings and got six out-of-tune sounds. “Is that it?” I thought. “Is that all it can do?” I was very disappointed. Continue reading
I was thinking about what I do with my life and realised that it goes in phases, phases of enthusiasm for one thing and another.
At the moment it’s e-books. I love reading (a continuing enthusiasm which has never left me) and when I discovered e-readers it was like the answer to a prayer. Instead of carting around a book, usually in a coat pocket or a shoulder bag, I could take all the books I needed, or thought I needed, in a nice, neat little package, always ready to open at the page I was on. I won’t tell you how many e-books I have (it’s a lot!) and my enthusiasm at the moment is having all the ones I want to read on my Kobo Aura (love it!) and have them sorted into categories – fiction, non-fiction, science, sf, fantasy, music, films, literature etc. I use Calibre, a free ebook catalogue programme where I can sort them, categorise, download covers and lots of other nifty things. It’s my favourite computer programme (not an app, apps are for mobile phones) and an example to a lot of commercial software companies of how to write a programme that is elegant, useful and, all in all, a pleasure to use.
Calibre – my favourite programme
Dylan at Blackbushe Airport 1978
This was just around the time that ‘Street Legal’ came out and a few of us decided to get tickets. Christine had been a Dylan fan since the early sixties, in fact it was Christine who first got me listening to him. Like a lot of other people I had heard him and thought he couldn’t sing. But when I started listening to his early albums I realised what a phenomenal songwriter and singer he was. The first album that made an impression was ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’. There are some fantastic songs on there – ‘My Back Pages’, ‘Chimes of Freedom’, ‘To Ramona’. It was a move away from the protest songs with which he had, much to his displeasure, become associated. But the album I was ultimately most impressed by was ‘Bringing it All Back Home’. This was where he made a big move from acoustic to electric music. Although he had used electric guitars and drums before this, on ‘Bringing it All Back Home’ one whole side of the album was electric, starting with what is, in effect, a beat poem put to music, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ which, in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary ‘Don’t Look Back’ is the music to what I think is the greatest music video ever made, long before music videos were the mindless accompaniments to music they have become. See what you think…..
Anyway, back to what this post was meant to be about, Dylan at Blackbushe. As I said earlier a few of us decided to get tickets. I can’t remember exactly who went, my memory generally isn’t of the best. It surely can’t have been the alcohol and valium that I was consuming. Christine and I were there, of course and, as far as I can remember, an old school friend of mine called Roy and his wife? girlfriend? companion? There may have been others. We travelled down in, I think, Roy’s camper van. When we got there the place was huge, a massive field surrounded by a fence and then further surrounded by car-parks. I recall later in the day deciding to go back to the van for something and it taking forever to find it. Continue reading