Sometimes, I will have a realization of circumstances that compels me to record my thoughts. In those moments of clarity, I see events, past or present, in a light that exposes an innate truth about me. I had one of those moments recently when I began the process of shopping for a new guitar.
I haven’t played a guitar for a number of years. I have played in several amateur bands, some were garage bands and others played for money, but in most of them I played rhythm guitar with occasional leads. In all of these cases, I ended up playing a different instrument than what I originally played when joining up due to a need to fill a hole. However, as much fun as it is just to play and be part of the machine, it is the guitar that I truly love and it is the guitar that defines my hearing of and taste in most music. I am very partial to outstanding vocals as well but it’s all about the guitar for me.
I set out several months ago to put together a rig that would give me a decent starting point and enough amplification to satisfy me, if not enough to be able to play with a band. I discovered that there is a lot I’ve forgotten about the whole process and it almost discouraged me to the point where I dismissed it entirely. But, I persisted and went out last week to put hands on some equipment and see what struck my fancy. I tested a few guitars and settled on a Fender Stratocaster that I’m hoping is still available when I can scrounge up a few bucks to buy it. I don’t know what amp to buy yet but I’m strongly leaning towards a Hughes & Kettner (which will be a totally new experience for me as I’ve never owned one before but the demos sounded incredible).
Everything to this point is normal for anyone buying a guitar who is the least bit picky but it leads me to the epiphany that prompted this post. I went to the music store to try the guitar out and when I sat down to bang something out, I went totally brain-dead and realized I had forgotten most of the songs I knew. It was a bit shocking and a little embarrassing but sure enough, I couldn’t get through a single riff because of a massive brain fart. I spent long enough playing around with the Strat to know that I liked the feel and want to buy it. But, it was when I left that I realized that the reason I had forgotten all those songs is because I had swore off playing due to life circumstances or other events. I had effectively denied a part of me that had been present since I was in my early teens and was missing. I felt a sense of sadness that I had let this happen but I also felt a sense of elation that I had identified my need for being able to play music when I wanted to, even if there is no real possibility of anyone else hearing it. I NEED it as much as I need to breathe.
In the broadest sense, the things I’ve done for personal fulfillment are things that are as much a part of me as anything else and denying them is denying who I am. It’s something I’ll address soon enough and I’ll remember this lesson in the future when there is a need to re-evaluate.