I had my first guitar lesson last Tuesday, and it was pretty humbling how much seven years of instrumental training I’ve forgotten. High school music is not a professional education, no matter how good the program (ours was pretty damn good) so I was always able to get by on a minimum of practice and a very good ear, no matter how my teachers lectured me. Plus, renting and transporting a full-size bass violin is not a simple matter, so if I was playing it was at school.
Still, I thought I should have retained more of my theory and reading ability. My teacher patiently ran through the basics with me again, and I had to stop myself from trying to be a know-it-all before I’d even started working with him. We talked about what I wanted to get out of lessons, and after first telling him I wanted to shred like Eddie Van Halen, I told him I’d be happy to learn chords and passable rhythm guitar. He told me to make a CD of some songs I wanted to learn and we’d work on them in turn, so I put together a playlist on my iPod this evening to start.
In no particular order:
|The Eagles||Peaceful Easy Feeling||I have the Eagles Anthology guitar book, so this is a no-brainer.|
|The Dandy Warhols||Boys Better||I have loved the chord progression in this song forever.|
|Weezer||The World Has Turned and Left Me Here||Again, a great chord progression.|
|Wilco||Kamera||I don’t listen to Wilco a lot, but I do like this song.|
|U2||Until the End of the World||I figured I should try at least one U2 song.|
|The La’s||There She Goes||A classic, and a solid rhythm part too.|
|R.E.M.||Texarkana||Can’t go wrong with REM.|
|R.E.M.||Radio Free Europe||Another good REM tune, and it’s a pretty simple chord progression.|
|The Stone Roses||Love Spreads||Love me some Stone Roses.|
|Sixpence None The Richer||Kiss Me||A beautiful acoustic song|
|The Cars||Just What I Needed||Oh, hell yes.|
|Stone Temple Pilots||Interstate Love Song||I love playing this on bass, and it’s full of meaty power chords.|
|The Sundays>||Here’s Where The Story Ends||pretty one-note, now that I listen to it|
|Matthew Sweet||Girlfriend||As much as I’d like to play the lead on this, I’ll be happy to learn the rhythm.|
|The Rolling Stones||Gimme Shelter||I need to learn some Stones, and this is my favorite tune.|
|The White Stripes||Fell In Love With A Girl||This is like Punk 101—guitar and drums.|
|The The||Dogs Of Lust||Eventually I’d like to learn this whole album.|
|The Police||De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da||This may be difficult, but I want to try it.|
|Neil Young and Crazy Horse||Cinnamon Girl||More meaty power chords.|
So far, I’ve got my muscle memory trained for the basic A, G, E and D chords, and I’m working on transitioning between them all fluidly. The D chord is a disaster for my meaty fingertips, like a game of Twister with the lights out, but I’ve got it down where there’s no more buzz on the frets. This evening I worked out the first verses of Boys Better and got the chord changes almost clean—except for that damn D chord. The fingertips on my left hand have a satisfying callous and a pronounced divot.