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.

Date posted: January 14, 2008 | Filed under music | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to Guitar Lesson, Week 2.

  1. Linda says:

    You may think I’m crazy, but ICAM with John Mayer that the guitar break in that Justin Timberlake song kicks all manner of ass.

    See http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20171561,00.html

    I’ve always gotten a bit of a tool-ish vibe from John Mayer, but I do think he’s a good guitarist. Which reminds me: I don’t see any blues in your list …

  2. Jason says:

    That’s an interesting way to go about it: have the student make a CD. It keeps your interest better than the sample songs they provide you in the typical instructional books. I’ve been playing a little more than usual lately as well. Also, I recently learned how to use GarageBand.

  3. the idiot says:

    He is a remarkable guitarist, actually–and there are several songs of his I’d like to play. I think his stuff may be a little advanced for the n00b like me, though.

    It’s funny you mention blues too, because I looked through my John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf collection, and I ultimately left it all out. We’re going to get into it, but right now I want to hit the main chords in some more melodic songs because I want to work on the transitions.