Because I’ve been feeling a little bit crazy.
Thank god it’s over – although Mercury is still in retrograde until the end of the week, or so I’ve been told – and hopefully I’ll feel increasingly less reflective and straight up funky (funky in an ‘off’ more than a cool George Clinton kind of way) in the days and weeks to come.
Until then, it’s been good for me and my guitar. I still haven’t quite gotten into the groove of the electric yet – mostly because I don’t want to make a bunch of cacophonous noise and piss off my neighbors – so I am still mainly focused on and working out my ‘stuff’ on the acoustic. On the upside, my ferocious calluses are back, and I get better every day. Case in point: last night I decided to come home and figure out a new song, and I can play it pretty expertly today. It’s not terribly complicated, but still.
Did I ever tell you why I took up the guitar?
Well, Melissa Etheridge and a bad breakup with someone who had introduced me to Melissa Etheridge’s music: to this day, nearly two decades later, the Brave and Crazy album still hits me where it hurts. Certain songs knock me straight back to being a 20-year old girl standing in the snow in Switzerland.
Specifically, there is a particular song “Royal Station 4/16″ on that album, and it’s all about a painful breakup…and trains. I lived in Europe at the time, and I had met this person on a train. A lot of our history took place on or around trains, and his remaining life was greatly shaped by them as well. This insight and irony is all in hindsight of course.
Anyway, I came back to The States and these lyrics were in my head, “I got this whiskey to take care of my lips. And I’ve got these long, cool, steel strings at my fingertips. But I ain’t got nothing to soothe my aching soul, except this screeching and screaming iron to tell me where I got to go.”
I’m not much of one for whiskey, and there aren’t many trains in South Central Pennsylvania, so I tried to convince my dad to buy me the long, cool, steel strings and the guitar they were attached to…and he did. Perhaps justifying that gracious and generous gesture on his part, I still have that guitar (although the neck is bowed and it’s tough to play), and I actually turned out a half-decent player in the end.
Here’s the inspiration, as played live much more recently:
My old love would have appreciated her hair in this performance. It irritated him they had tried to “pretty her up” in the subsequent albums. This is all before she came out of the closet, of course, and her label was no doubt hoping to water down her inherent dyke-iness. But I digress…
I completely admire her live performances (some of the best I’ve ever seen. As the same man once summed it up, “She doesn’t talk much. She just rocks.”), there is no denying that harmonica contraption is not flattering. Kind of reminds me of that big orthodontia thing – what is it called? – headgear?
Lord, to have to wear head gear. The only fate worse was the giant metal exoskeleton if you had scoliosis. Do they still do that? I remember being checked annually in gym (we had to bend over and touch our toes and they would study our spines), and the gripping fear that – on top of every other adolescent challenge I was choking on already – I would be chosen by scoliosis as well. Happily – and thank god – that was never the case or I might have just given up the ghost altogether and jumped off a bridge or something. I’m kidding…mostly.
Anyway, I don’t quite have her pipes or talent (at all), but maybe I’ll work on this song all the same…minus the harmonica, of course.