Last night I hooked up my guitar to my amp/cabinet for the first time in months. Ideally I’d love to play with that shit cranked to full volume, but in consideration of my neighbors I usually play unplugged, and very quiettly at that.
Part of the joy of playing comes in the cathartic release of repressed emotions. In my case that’s usually anger and sadness. So I tend to strum the guitar very strongly, something you’re not really supposed to do. I was talking to an actual guitarist about this and he says you need a “graceful” touch, a light playing of the strings. And I see his point. But I like to play aggressive music and it simply feels better to fuck the strings up a bit when playing. Plus I think it sounds cool with distortion. If you over-strum, you can get a lot of artificial harmonics going on, which to me is an incredibly cool sound.
So fuck the standard. I’ll do it my way.
Except, I don’t even do that, ’cause neighbors, you know? Instead I find myself too often just playing the guitar, not working it. And if I’m not working it, I’m not enjoying it.
Well, all this to say I got it set up last night so I could play through headphones. I’ve been listening to a lot of Deftones lately, specifically their White Pony album, and have been wanting to learn their songs on guitar. Well apparently I’d already learned them all 15 years ago because when I went to do so it all came back to me. And I realized that they’ve had a greater impact of my playing style than I knew.
Their guitarist likes to play dissonant chords, something I also greatly enjoy. Most of the time when he plays a power chord he also adds an extra string or two that changes the chord’s sound, usually to make it sound darker rather than brighter. This is a technique I stole from them although I hadn’t beeen aware.
But it all comes back to enjoyment, and I’m finding myself enjoying the guitar more and more once again. I gave it up for over a period of 5 years or so but have been playing it pretty consistently for the last 2. I’m by no means technically proficient from a classical perspective, but I can play rhythm fairly decently. I’m getting over my insecurities about my ability, now it’s time to get over my reluctantance of actually letting people hear it.
My biggest fear since early childhood has been public singing. I’ve been so terrified of it that I wouldn’t even allow myself to sing in my room even if I knew no one else could possibly hear me. I wouldn’t sing in the car. I just never did it, and if I did it was a mumbled mess.
I feel things deeply. Way more than I let on. And if you’re gonna be a good singer you need to show everyone what’s inside.
I remember being 13 or 14 and thinking to myself, “I wonder if what I’m supposed to be is a singer and that’s why it scares me so much?” I noticed the irony of it and thought it worth noting. Now I’m twice that age and counting and I’m beginning to see that I was not too far off.
I didn’t know that music would carry me this far. I’m not a popular musician by any aspect but I’ve had success with it, however limited. I never tried to be anything when I played music. When you are socializing you have to play the part. The part people expect. The part they accept.
In music you’re totally free to express yourself exactly as you feel. When I played I got into, like really into it. Sure it scared me to do it publicly, but as I’ve grown and embarrassed myself endlessly it’s becoming no matter at all.
But now it’s time to figure out this singing mess. I’ve been singing in the car for the last 2 years or so. Pretty much for as long as I’ve been doing crossfit. I’m not sure why I started but I probably just stopped giving a fuck.
My singing is getting better but it still sucks. But I am reminded of Kurt Cobain. His voice works because it’s his own shit. He’s expressing himself in his own unique way. And it fucking works. So I’ve got to find my voice.
I’ve got a few songs written on guitar, but they’re all instrumental. I’ve got to figure out how to write these lyrics. To be honest, I haven’t given it more than a moment’s thought. But Chester’s death today made me realize it’s probably fucking time.