Monday, December 28, 2009

Coming back to feed the blues...

I think the blues is straight up bad-ass. I love it, and since I first started making any semblance of music I've wanted to tear off some sweet blues riffs. It's tough though, really tough.  I can feel it on the inside though, but I cant let it out.  (Catch up left hand! And right hand for that matter.) The good news it that I can definitely *feel* it, like you're supposed to with all music. The blues is easy to feel though, isnt it?  That's what makes it the blues. You can almost anticipate where the sound is going to go, aka call & answer, the best though is when it does something unexpected. Someday, who knows when, hopefully i'll be able to really embellish and throw my own surprises. Until then, I'll just keep doing finger exercise and that pentatonic scale. Both of which I've been doing in between typing these fragmented sentences. The finger exercises are not fun, scales arent that fun either. I just keep telling myself to push through it, to get a little closer to that elusive mastery. Which is to summarize my determination to learn the guitar.

Last spring after I'd decidedly quit the guitar and before I picked it back up. I was talking with some friends about instruments, music, and the like, when "man hours" were referenced. I cant remember the specific context but I think I was gushing about how I marveled at talented musicians. Anyway, that's when a friend referenced another conversation he'd previously had regarding learning an instrument. He said anyone could learn an instrument with 500 hours into it.  Some would obviously learn quicker but if you were willing to spend 500 hours you'd most likely get your head wrapped around it okay. I learned the guitar reciting that convo over and over in my head. I'd hear a faint "500 hours!" "500 hours!" While simultaneously thinking "I wonder how many I've put in so far?" And then wondering "well, I'm progressing, but i wonder if i'm learning as efficiently as possible?" That latter thought is probably why I'm taking a few lessons. Also, Abe at Portland Music insisted I should, citing his lack of doing so as his only regret as someone 100% self-taught.  And since Abe is the main reason I own a Ukulele, we have a bond, (blog to come on that later.)  After all, "500" is doable, but it'd be nice to get better mileage if possible.

I havent read any study on whether 500 hours is accurate in terms of "learning" an instrument. It sounds fair to me though, particularly since we're not really defining the requisites of the measured accomplishment - we're simply saying to "play" the instrument.  Along those same lines, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book last year called, "Outliers: The story of Success" that came out in November.  I havent read the book, but as I understand it, the underlying theme is that it takes 10,000 hours to reach what most would consider a world class expert in any particular field. Now 10,000 hrs is a long long time, and it will be a lifetime before I'm there. My only consolation is that I'm not expecting to "master" the guitar, but forever accept my role as a student.

We have 8,760 hours each year and almost two thirds of those are spent sleeping or at a job we may hardly enjoy. Then we have that remaing 1/3, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 hours, to do whatever it is we feel like.  And out of that 3000 we all probably spend a lot it looking forward to something or glorifying our rear-view. Facebook status updates are a great indicator of who thinks like that.  How many people have you seen, or maybe you yourself have, put out "cant wait til Friday" or "is it Friday yet?" or "uggghhh... Monday". Not trying to sound overly poetic, but I honestly enjoy everyday.  I mean, sure everyone loves Friday, but there's an opportunity to better ourselves everyday, right?  I think of how many hours I've wasted doing nothing?  Countless.  And while learning the guitar is not something that's going to make me amass traditional wealth, I'm certain the treasures will be worth the voyage.

I'm 27 years old and god willing will be 37 someday.  I have over 87,000 hours until then and so many things to do.  It can be overwhelming.  I wonder if I'll have 10,000 hrs to spare on the guitar.... What is that, 3 hours a night?

Practice Practice Practice


I stayed up late last night rapping over the guitar with BK.  Reconnecting with Brian on a creative level was both long overdue, and sooooo much fun.  We've gotten together in the last few months but havent necessarily put our egos aside and gotten weird.  And weird is good.

I think Brian left at a 12:45am and I woke up for work a brief five hours later, after a restless attempt at a good nights sleep.  The funny thing is I dont even feel tired today, if anything, I feel like I have more energy.  I feel like I'm rejuvenated.  I am rejuvenated, which is to say I have that "alive" feeling - love that. I also have a lot to be thankful for, which brings me to the song we worked on.  Without having a copy of the lyrics in front of me I'll try to loosely recreate them, but moreover just try to write a rap that works in the cadence.

Ya know I've got a lot to be thankful for...

In my health
I've got my wealth
A life with love, no need for stuff, cuz I know that love is enough for me
I've got my fun, my friends, my foes, my lows, my people make one big family
I've got my space, I've got a pace, no time to waste, for life's a race
And I've got my freedom to breathe...Yes...
My freedom to breathe...

I'll put the actual lyrics up here later.... The song's a hit though - for sure!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the back of our eyelids

with time an after thought
their still-shot series is shown
muted critics sit amongst fans
and w/ rapidity, view the stills in this still-shot slide show

it's the past, present AND future
Every high voiced through lows
its decored in an omnipresent technicolor with perfect clarity
all seen with eyes closed

every second composed through a million moments
every snapshot suspended in it's own context
we're alive like you were then, screaming "look, No hands!"
with lessons still learned, we're younger again, but we make demands

now with foresight afforded, is our path not the same....?
Can we decipher which components made us stronger, weaker?
does it even matter?
We matter. Yes. and we dont "accept" the inevitable
We are the inevitable and we've already found comfort in ourselves

So now light creeps through the cracks
between eyelashes it replaces the impression
calmness remains and we remain standing with our luggage in hand

every choice we've made is there stacked neatly along the curbs
Picket fences and weedless flower-beds fill out the shadow box neighborhood
every decision yet-to-be loiters up ahead

between the curbs and manicured yards we are
and not intimidated either
We stand and lean in, and smile between hiccuping laughter
The first noble truth was already accepted
and it's accuracy is comical...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Eric's song

This is for my friend Eric Anderson , who is currently off in India fulfilling his karmic duties.  I started it awhile ago, but lost track of it like the other 20-something unpublished blogs I have. In short, I'll say Eric is an inspiration, an artist, a friend and someone I admire.

Take a walk....out by the Ganges
Walk up to the sun, on Himalayan peaks
Talk a walk.....out by the Ganges
Walk up to the sun, on Himalayan peaks


From now 'til your final savasana
An example for all, letting nothing stop ya
Carry on with all your good intentions
As lessons of a past life, roll into retention

No need to cogitate fate
Living breathing meditation
Inspiring me with your revolution revelation

Share your heart, your love, your smile
Your Karma will change the life of a child

Take a walk....out by the Ganges
Walk up to the sun, on Himalayan peaks
Take a walk....out by the Ganges
Walk up to the sun, on Himalayan peaks

Two oceans away - but always at home
Walk tall my friend, for you're never alone
I and I within, divine and proper
(You know) all righteous paths lead back to our father

You, the way, the path
These moments in time quickly become our past

Take a walk....out by the Ganges
Walk up to the sun, on Himalayan peaks
Take a walk....out by the Ganges
Walk up to the sun, on Himalayan peaks

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I got rhythm!

Last night I took my 2nd paid guitar lesson. I've had friends, youtube, books, and the internet show me plenty of things, but last night, and the week before, I popped for my first paid lessons. I found a super cheap guy off of craigslist, $10/hr first lesson and $15/hr thereafter. My instructor Dan's a nice guy, but you get what you pay for, and I didnt pay for Stevie Ray Vaughn. Which is to say he hasnt shown me anything earth shattering, but he's given me a few great technical tips, and has been able to answer my questions regarding song structure, progressions and theory in general. Plus, the steel determination I practiced with in-between lesson 1 and 2, in an attempt to impress him, was definitely worth a few bucks.

So like I said, I practiced with "steel determination" this last week, and it definitely felt like I took a swift step forward. I didnt practice more than I was before, I just practiced more effectively. I did more finger exercises, scales, and worked at changing my index finger position in my bar chords. All categories improved and remain a work in progress. Dan did mention my rhythm, noting I had "excellent rhythm". BK said something to that effect a while ago too. Even before that I would have probably said I have good rhythm, if you asked me. I've always been able to dance, and pickup on a beat in a freestyle, but it was really good to hear it from him. He told me I've got really great natural skills too, (again, very gratifying), and that he'll prolly only be able to give me lessons for a few months b/c I'll surpass him. HA! Needless to say, that last part had me beaming. I really hope I'm able to make progress like that on the guitar, but like I said, he's no Stevie Ray Vaughn.

It made me think though, about focus, something I'm definitely no poster child of. Being able to really focus is such a powerful tool. It is as much of your will, in the smallest place you can fit it.

Anyway, gonna go work on that rhythm a little more before zzzzzzz....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I'm not sure where I'll end up with this blurb, I'm just setting out to jot down my thoughts.

So I've been really antisocial as of late, and the weird part is, it doesnt bother me at all. But I guess it not bothering me, is actually what gives me some concern, since I know this sort of imbalance isnt healthy. Honestly though, all I want to do is play the guitar. I cant even find my desire to go out and party.

At this time last year I started working on my 2009 New Years Resolutions. I made a worthy list of goals for the year, two of which were; 'Spend 30 minutes, (at least, preferably an hour), by myself everyday,' and another; 'Learn to play the guitar'. Little did I know these two would compliment one another with perfect symmetry in 2009.

I already owned an acoustic guitar as a present from xmas-past, and I picked it up in January. My friend Charlie Dobson started me out with a few chords - G, C, and D, (I think), and so it began. It was a long time (7 mos.) before I even tried to strum the thing. I would reluctantly practice moving between the chords while watching blazer games or something. At this point the guitar was definitely a chore and I one done w/ sparing regularity. Then in late February or early March a friend broke one of my strings, doing what I aspired to, actually playing it. So there my guitar sat for the next 4 months. I even remember Charlie asking me if I was 'wasting his time' - since I'd given up on the guitar so easily. I had again let something small get in my way, much like I had at other times in my life. I could say it was the string, it broke, but in reality it was me getting in my own way. (Note: I took guitar lessons when was 10/11 years old, but quit for baseball, which I then quit a few years later - dammit!)

My reason for resolving to allot alone time for myself, was a good idea. I've spent too much of my time surrounding myself with the party, or being the party. In a sense, distracting myself so I didnt have to deal with myself. Not that I was unhappy, but no matter who you are, a long hard look in the mirror can be revealing, in a good way. When we're left alone, we're never really alone, we all have that inner voice dont we? I know I do, and it's rather vocal, and, if you let it, a great mentor. That voice will ask the hard questions, it's whether or not you listen to it or the radio silence. I liken it to things we're always going to do, or have always wanted to do, but never did. Maybe it's an obscure guilty pleasure, maybe not, maybe it was a sport you werent big enough to try out for, or a girl you were too scared to ask out, or anything else. Now granted there are people who have never experienced that and do exactly what it is they want to do. Those are the lucky ones, and I happen to believe we make our own luck. If everyday you conciously make an effort at something, it will eventualy give - however I digress.

So it wasnt until sometime in June that I picked the guitar back up. Before that I'd been spending my alone time mostly writing, which oddly enough was both one of my 2009 New Years Resolutions, and what led me back to the instrument. That resolution to 'keep writing' mainly pertained to poetry. I first wrote poetry in middle school and always enjoyed it from then on. Though I never read much or wrote much in the next 10 years (a little here and there). Also, I don't think I'm a great writer by any stretch, but I enjoy expressing myself with the literary art form, and that's what it's all about - right? Anyway, I started casually writing poetry again in summer 2008 (with a broken jaw). It started mostly in jest, or I at least disguised it that way, but I enjoyed it - which is why it became an '09 resolution. Fast forward to June 6th and I'm in Corvallis for my little sisters graduation, with my notepad in hand - of course. I wrote my sister a poem for her graduation, one that I liked enough to share (this was pre-blog, which has been an anything goes platform). That night was instrumental in leading me back to the guitar as Brian Krichevsky started putting some music to a few of my poems. We stayed up late drinking and dinking around with the guitar, poems and I think a little free-styling (maybe). Days before this Charlie had put music to one of my poems and this further solidified the resonance I felt. I've always felt comfortable in my own skin, and with that comfortable being a little odd - to put it kindly. This was different though, I was getting comfortable exploring myself. It's one thing to be comfortable in your own skin, but another to go outside of that with the same confidence. Later in the summer someone asked my Mom if I was a "songwriter or a poet" and she laughed - rightfully so. But like we've been told since we were little, you can be whatever or whoever you want, and in that same vein I say; fake it till you make it. So in June I got new strings and promised myself that the rest of my summer leisure time would be spent with the guitar in hand (or nearby).  I was certain that if I did this by summers end I'd be able to play. Well I'm still learning but I can play it, now I need an intervention to stop....seriously though!

My underlying theme for 2009 was to make it the best year yet. More than that, to approach every year like that from then on out. Well time will give perspective to whether or not this year was the best, but I'm fairly certain it will be second only to 2010.

Live in the moment.

I've started shaping my 2010 New Years Resolutions, I'm sure I'll share some on here....