Ages ago, I chronicled my experience trying to get into a band (which is, incidentally, better written and more accurately descriptive of my feelings than I recall). Since then, my lifelong relationship to music has more or less followed a predictable pattern: restring a guitar, mess around with it for a few days, get buried in an avalanche of work, forget about the guitar, sit on my couch grading, see guitar gathering dust, get all mopey and contemplative, repeat cycle. Throughout it all, the one constant was feeling that the "guitar player" part of my identity was slipping away, decaying through its half life, leading me inevitably and inexorably to a point where I become merely a guy who used to think of himself as a guitar player when he was younger. This, I believed, was fate.
Things inevitably happen, though. During my really good weekend recently, I found myself, during the course of one evening's drinking, going from "guy who sometimes likes to still think of himself as a guitar player occasionally" to "guy who is somehow in a band with another guitar player and a drummer." Then we somehow recruited a bass player before the weekend was out. Then we set a rehearsal date...and it seemed that for once, I was finally able to slap fate in the mouth.
Figuring more distortion could only help cover how out of shape my playing was, I went online and purchased a highly recommended distortion pedal from a well-reviewed music store. However, it never came, and when I finally contacted the store, they told me that their post office loses about a package a week...and it apparently was my turn...so I still don't have it. Sigh...score one for fate.
But I was hoping for improvement. When it finally came time to play together, I was pleased to find out that I was not as rusty as, by all rights, I should be. My fingers were actually cooperating. Moreover, my 1973 Les Paul Custom (which, in a fit of madness, I actually contemplated selling) sounded amazing when I was able to crank up the volume on the Marshall and put the spurs to it. And the day turned out fairly productive...we faked our way through some parts of songs, developed fragments of three original songs, and assembled a list of cover songs to learn.
Lest it seem that everything was going too smoothly or that I was coming out ahead, however, my amplifier started to make some weird noise when I first plugged in...we initially just put it down to schmutz in the system. Then I went to show our bass player a chord progression, touched her instrument, and received an electrical shock. Wondering if it was me or her, I touched the other guitar player's instrument and was shocked again. Near the end of the session, I was doing a stupid "never stop soloing" moment at the end of the song, and the other guitar player grabbed my instrument to stop me...and herself received a massive electrical blast.
Initially, we thought it must've been just the result of rental house wiring (where landlords regularly do not overly concern themselves with building codes or proper standards of maintenance). Yet when I went over to my guitar player's house this week to work out some parts, my amplifier refused to do anything other than an electronic gargle. So, having realized that my amp was on the verge of death, I took it to a recommended repair shop. Only two problems, though. First, I have to pay for the first hour in advance (which works out to be $70). Second, they'll get to the amp in 2-3 weeks. This wouldn't be a problem if I was still "occasional guitar player guy," but we have a practice session lined up for Friday.
Yes, it's not just my almost overwhelming workload that prevents me from being a musician...it's also some twisted combination of fate and whatever vindictive deities rule the world of electronic sound amplification.
But I won't let it get me down. This time, I'll just strum really loudly.