The Setlist

Most Times It’s Just Decent

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Apr 25th, 2010
This post was originally written on the blog.

Several weeks ago, I posted a message on the StevieSnacks Facebook Page after a particularly uninspired 30 minutes of guitar playing. Someone made the following comment:

“..wish there were more accomplished musicians out there who were open and humble talking about this kind of thing.”

I suppose that if I had a career based on my artistry, I’d be more inclined to pretend that every time I pick up the guitar, some kind of magic happens.  But, that’s not my game, so here’s a bit of honest truth about what it’s like to be me.

Most Times It’s Decent

Most times I play, it’s pretty decent.  There’s a certain level of skill that I never lose, even when I take a week or two off.  There are enough licks in my muscles to make my playing feel pretty good most times.

But  I do way more computer work than guitar playing to run StevieSnacks, so my hands and forearms are usually pretty out of shape. I tire quickly while soloing. I start playing the same licks over and over.

I’m distracted, wondering if I should lower the midrange boost of one of my pedals, or whether the bass on the amp is too boomy, or why the treble feels like it’s cutting a hole in my eardrum today.

Maybe I forgot to trim my fingernails and they’re hitting the fretboard when I play chords. Or maybe I forgot to use Fast Fret and my strings are starting to feel sticky. 

Most times, I’m distracted enough to make it just decent.

Sometimes It’s Just Awful

Then there are the bad days. My timing is off, my brain is almost in a different place than my body. The groove is very hard to find and I quickly get bored by my own playing.

I have tried on occasion to play through the rough spots, but those practice sessions usually end with me hanging up the guitar and walking away discouraged.

When It Happens

There have been a few times, probably less than 20, in 13 years of playing, where I had what felt like a deep spiritual experience while playing guitar. Only a few of them were so deep that I nearly forgot where I was.

Those times, scarce, but sacred, were heavy. Very, very heavy. And I can tell you……it is every bit as good as you can imagine. And it is incredibly worth it. Worth every minute of practice, worth every drop of sweat, and worth every ripped up fingertip.

To express yourself through the guitar with nearly 100% efficiency makes you feel like you might explode. Getting so lost in the music that you can’t see the crowd in front of you, is simply amazing.

It is an experience worth pursuing. Even if it only happens once.

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