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Old 08-04-2017, 09:16 PM   #1
mcquinnsr
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Default Some late Night thoughts on Skill levels

Most of the regulars on this forum have dedicated a lot of time and energy in becoming proficient musicians and if you ask a question you will get detailed well reasoned answers from them. My son and ex wife have a natural gift if they hear something they like she can play it on a keyboard or he can play it on a guitar or bass in a very short order. I on the other hand have been a back porch picker for a very long time. I am well versed in the circle of 5ths and if I can figure what key someone is in I can usually play along . This is what I enjoy and do on a regular basis ,folks show up at Church and would like to sing a song and my bass player , pianist and I can usually make it sound like we have done that song more than just that once. My plan has always been when I retire to actually learn to play ,read music and understand music theory . Not sure if I ever actually will but we all have to have a plan. My job and other responsibilities have caused me to put all that on a back burner ,I am lucky to even be able to pick up a guitar 6 days of the week. I do HVAC/R and computer building controls for a local hospital and about 50 outbuildings with 2 other techs.I am 61 now and have been playing since I was 15. There are folks who say the quality of equipment you own will affect the quality of your playing. In my case my Martin sound as good as my Recording King or Applause. Buying new toys has always caused me to try and find more time to play .
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:57 AM   #2
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If you can determine the key, most songs are fairly accessible. Knowing rules (12 bar vs 16 bar, etc) helps but today's writers seem determined to make something simple into something needlessly (IMO) complex. Of course, sounding like my father and saying everything today sounds like all the rest doesn't even come close to my level of dis-interest in most of today's new songwriters.

Jack White has some interesting ideas, like his "American Epic" series; http://www.rollingstone.com/music/fe...ic-doc-w482170

Not enough like him though and I'm hardly into slavish devotion to the originals.

Here in Dallas we have a TV show which presents up and coming "Country" artists. Ray Benson, of Asleep At The Wheel, hosts and comments. I honestly don't know why he doesn't just introduce every act with, "They've got the formula down pat and here's a good example of them sounding like everyone else ... "



The more I listen to contemporary performers, the more roots music gets put on the music stand and the more 1930's through '60's music I stick in the player.

AXS TV - owned, and used as his favorite toy, by Dallas billionaire and Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban - ran a documentary on The Doors last week. Those guys never cease to amaze me with the inventiveness of their music and how it stands out from today's blandness and low risk taking. Whether you liked Morrison or not, the band was capable of music that is unlike anything coming from most others and they did not show fear when it came to turning out songs. I still remember the first time I heard their version of Kurt Weill's "Alabama Song": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9BvXG3eZ08

That's a pretty far stretch from Bobby Darin's cover of Weill's "Mack the Knife". The anarchists inhabiting Weill and Brecht's world probably would have preferred the take on "Alabama Song" a bit more IMO.


Porch pickin' is where I've been for years. Stress fractures to my left hand are keeping me in check now days. Maybe some day there won't be stuff that needs fixing and doing and my hand can just play. Not sure when that day will come as it seems like owning an old home means there's always something to do and something to fix. I'm paying someone to paint the facia boards on my bungalow's three foot deep eaves since I no longer have any interest in hanging off the top of a 24' ladder. Of course, paying for painting means there's less to go for a new guitar.

It's been a while since I bought a new guitar so I can't even remember how it affected my desire to play. No doubt though, finding time when there are always a dozen things that need doing in my off time has always been a constant struggle for getting better at playing. Retirement's coming but I'm resisting giving up the income.

A few years back I lost Buck, our Cocker Spaniel, who was my best audience and my best critic. Maggie does fine but every time I lower my hand to change the page she grabs it and wants her belly rubbed instead. She's hard to resist so my playing suffers - that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

Last edited by JanVigne; 08-07-2017 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 08-07-2017, 04:44 PM   #3
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I like Asleep At The Wheel for what it is Texas Swing dance hall music. Kind of neat how they can put about any words to that basic pattern. Pretty much how bar bands make their money . The singer learns the words and the lead guitar player or steel player learns the hooks and you make your money or cover your drinks all night.
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Old 08-25-2017, 11:21 AM   #4
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Late to this party, but.....
mcquinnsr; The guy who taught me my first chords & a box scale also does HVAC at a hospital. And I, too, love Asleep At The Wheel - and loathe what they call "country" music these days.
Jan; While my opinion of Morrison as a poet has changed a good bit over the decades - and not for the better - I am still in awe of Kreiger, Densmore, and Manzarak!
In the 38 years since the aforementioned friend got me started I managed - just barely - to progress from strumming cowboy chords to fingerpicking cowboy chords. Getting serious about it is also on my retirement list; now if I could just afford to retire............
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:17 PM   #5
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Morrison will always be an acquired taste, even for those just recently arriving at The Doors' music. Without the legend Morrison created around himself and the band, the music is all that's left. Nowdays, I think you learn about Morrison after you've learned about The Doors.

I was, back in the day, quite interested in the small, unconventional bands like The Doors and The Cream. Without the staple rhythm, lead, bass and drums, these were musicians creating something unique and unheard of in my listening experience. Sort of like Elvis when he was backed by only Scotty and Bill and Cash with his Tennessee Two there was a lot of music coming from a very limited palette of instruments. That entirely new styles of music were being created only added to my fascination.

Since their first release I have had the two albums cut by the remaining members of the Doors after Morrison's death. No one could match the peculiarities of Morrison's vocals but the group sounds somewhat liberated without all the attention being drawn to one member of the group. Not a great album (and one that could have been made better with more attention paid to production), "Full Circle" is still one that finds its way to the turntable with some regularity.



I began receiving Social Security in July, Medicare kicks in next month. Glad to finally be more or less free of for profit insurance companies. SS isn't much since I've been a care taker for my diabetic partner for the last 20 + years. The pet sitting business brings in some extra income and has for the last 17 years. Still, it's difficult to give up the extra money and say I will retire and live on SS alone.

Can't imagine just sitting - I do too much of that now - but I can't imagine going back to another job that requires 40 hours and then some each week, being around twenty something year olds who think they've got it all figured out.

That decision will likely come sometime next year.
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Old 08-25-2017, 01:21 PM   #6
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Man, I haven't heard Other Voices or Full Circle since the '70s; I need to find them!
I drifted away from my Doors fascination to go really unconventional; Good Old Grateful Dead!
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