My only experience with a musical instrument during my preadult years was with the recorder. I’m not talking about the devices that can record your voice but the other thing that looks like a flute on welfare. It was forced upon us in elementary school and we all hated it. I wanted to toy around with it once in a while at home but my mom’s truck driving partner at the time would say, “if you want to play that thing, go outside!” Canadian winters aren’t exactly friendly for outdoor musical practice sessions so that was that.
After high school, I didn’t transition to post secondary or gainful employment which made many of my days depressing. A lot of days were spent sleeping in until the PM hours and then followed by hours of laying in bed. One night I was bored and sick of the radio so I put on some of my old cassette tapes. A song that was playing was a song that I heard a bunch of times but this time it was different. For whatever reason the guitar solo grabbed onto my ears and hypnotized me.
The beginning riff of Sweet Child O’Mine is one of the more recognizable ones but it’s at the 3:35 mark of the song that blew my mind. I listened to the rest of the songs on that album that night and I fell in love with most of the other guitar solos. I wanted to learn how to do what Slash did on all those songs! I was inspired.
Soon after I went out and bought an electric guitar and amplifier for $400. There wasn’t Youtube in 1998 so you either had to get someone to teach you or you had to learn from books. I was too cheap to pay for lessons so I tried to learn on my own. It was hard. I didn’t sound like Slash and gave up within a few months. I managed to convince myself that it was the guitar and not my lack of effort that was the root of my failure.
The guitar and amp combo sat there for 7 years until I became inspired again and decided to take lessons. My guitar teacher had long hair and would sometimes show up hung over from beers and whiskey the night before. On the days he was hung over he would have his head down and say, “good” even when I was clearly messing up big time. I was learning though. My progress was slow but I have to take responsibility for my lack of practicing. I stuck with the lessons every week for 6 months but I didn’t continue because Randy was an uninspiring teacher as I was as a student. $20 for half an hour wasn’t exactly cheap either.
The years after I would continue practicing on my own, hoping that I could one day bust out the entire solo of Sweet Child O’Mine or any cool sounding solo. There were years where I practiced somewhat regularly but lately the guitar strings are dancing with dust rather than with my fingers. I’ve achieved modest success but still haven’t given up on the idea of being able to play guitar really well one day. Hopefully when the motivation arises again, I won’t have arthritis in my fingers.