Strings In My Mind

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The guitar was an instrument I was never going to play. But, that being said, at one time I never intended on playing any instrument other than my voice. I was a vocalist. I would sing and others would play. Then, I turned 16 (many years ago) and things for me changed. Suddenly, I wanted to write. I went to the piano because it’s what was there. There was a piano available and I could play it well enough – just about – to use it as a songwriting tool.
 
I’m not sure when it all changed for me – where I got tired of looking for others to accompany me – where I wanted to be free to perform utterly solo – but the change happened. And, from somewhere inside, I heard the piano call to me. I sat down. And. I. Played.
 
I would laugh when people would call me a pianist and when they would speak glowingly of my playing. I’m a vocalist, I would say. I heard the piano giggle, too. We had our secrets. But, I finally realised I wasn’t just a vocalist anymore: I was a proper musician – I’d just taken the long way ’round.
 
What other instruments could I play? I began to pick the odd one up… can I make this sing?
 
The djembe.
The Native American flutes.
The lyre.
 
And, we sang while the old guitar (that belonged to my husband but he didn’t play either) gathered dust and I avoided frets like I avoid making a phone call.
 
Oh, every once in a great while I’d pick it up and ‘try’. But, I wanted it to be easy, of course.  And, I didn’t want it to be painful. The guitar is neither easy nor painless.  My nails would have to go, too.  Fuck this.
But, I’d write guitar songs.  I’d write them on the piano and then have a guitarist friend play them.
Then. Earlier this year, a chance invitation from someone had me inexplicably attending a ‘build your own ukulele workshop’.  And, in an afternoon, I was playing the ukulele as if I had done all my life.
I thought, ‘Hmmm… I can manage these frets…’ I looked over at the dust covered six stringed beast, just sitting there taunting me.
Understand this, musical instruments have souls. They have personalities. It’s why I name all my instruments.  And, I may be crazy, but I’m not off my meds and I’m NOT delusional…  musicians know this: instruments have a way of communicating with you. The guitar was smug.  It was taunting me.
‘I’m out of your reach, old woman.  Can’t teach you a new trick.’
Long story much greatly shortened, we grappled with each other but eventually reached an understanding; a truce was called.  He let me in.  I discovered he needed a bit of help in order to help me play him. So, I had his action lowered and we set off teaching an old girl new tricks after all.
This is the result.
I’m proud of this; I’m excited to share it.  And, I’m grateful.  Grateful for this musical journey which has done so much more than add versatility to my performance as a musician; it’s gone deep, affecting the very fabric of my being. I’m selling this short EP of acoustic guitar and rich vocal songs for just £2, but to me it’s worth so much more…this experience has been priceless. May you enjoy the fruits of my labour – and my precious friendship – with the guitar.
Lesson: sometimes, some things are worth the pain.
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Don’t fret? Apparently so.

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Here’s a picture of frustration for you, and a personal metaphor.

I’ve been considering my inability to play the guitar. In theory, this instrument should not evade me. I should be able to play it. It isn’t like it’s difficult, or a mystery. Except, I just can’t. Like being able (or, rather, not able) to cope and function in life, the guitar remains a source of failure.

It would be nice, helpful, perhaps profitable, if I could play such a portal and versatile instrument.

It would also be fantastic, helpful, etc., if I could make and answer phone calls and face social situations (i.e. going out my door), not either fall apart in or, alternatively, avoid stressful situations (stressful situations = life), not wish with every breath that it’s my last breath.

But, the guitar won’t let me play it…no matter how I’ve tried. And, life is just as contrary and hostile.

I can still make beautiful music, of course. Just as I still have moments of happiness, small victories while, ultimately, losing the war. But, the things out of my reach affect me greatly.

For the musically (or, humorously) challenged, the title of this post is a play on words… the guitar being a fretted instrument.  Don’t fret. Ha! Get it?

Why can’t I make the guitar and life sing for me? Well…it is what it is.

Not sure how to end this one. To stay with the music analogy, this post feels rather open ended and not resolving to the home chord…but, eh, I do that in songwriting all the time. So, yeah…life being as it is, I find it fitting to leave this…

Everybody Hurts…

…sometimes.

Last night, for an event at my church called Jobel’s@7:07, I sang my cover version of the R.E.M. song “Everybody Hurts”, accompanied on guitar by the cosmically talented Mr. Bob Breeze.

The night was all about suffering, you see. Something that, well, if you’ve read many of my posts, you know I am not a stranger to.

I like this song, and I feel I did an overall good interpretation of it (it’s good; watch the vid, people!)…AND I certainly understand the lines that talk about days and nights being too long and feeling like one has had too much of this life. But…

It’s that encouragement to hang and hold on that gets me.

Oh, I know I’m not alone. I know that not everyone suffers from depression and mental illness, but – it’s true that – EVERYONE does hurt, sometimes. And, while many do not suffer with severe depression, anxiety, etc., there are quite a few who do. So, in these regards, I am not alone.

I also know that I am not alone when it comes to having an amazingly supportive husband, a few dear and precious friends, and a loving, saving, God of hope and healing.

Oh, yes. I am certainly not alone.

And yet… sometimes holding/hanging on is more than difficult; it is excrutiating.

And, I know…

I’m not alone.