“May you live in interesting times…”
Over the past few days, this phrase has popped into my head a lot.
Supposedly, it’s an ancient curse. And, while it sounds more like a blessing than a malediction, the expression is ironic. “Uninteresting” times, after all, are peaceful. History’s “interesting” moments were where the troubles lay.
Whether we’ve been cursed or not, these are most definitely “interesting times” we’re living in. In the past few weeks, we’ve faced unprecedented upheaval on a global scale. Things we took for granted at the start of the year – stocked supermarket shelves and the freedom to congregate as we please – are no longer a given. “Social distancing” is now a fact of life and I’ve washed my hands so many times past weeks, you’d think I murdered a Scottish King…
Perhaps most troubling is that we don’t know how long this will last. Weeks? Months? Years? The future is uncertain.
As these strange days go on, though, there’s another statement that keeps ear worming around my brain.
“I pick up my guitar and play. Just like yesterday.”
Of course, we know who wrote that one...
I thank god for my guitar because right now, it’s a lifeline. As crazy as things are, those six strings remain constant. I’ve never been so grateful to fret chords, practice scales and make music. When I plug in my Les Paul, I can make enough noise to drown out all the uncertainty and all the bullshit. Things are changing at a rapid pace, but the guitar is still there. Just like yesterday.
And I know I’m not the only one. A ray of light in all of this has been hearing musician friends reconnecting with their instruments. My social media has been awash with new songs, covers and live streams these past few days and the outpouring of creativity has been heartening. Just the other day, for example, my Thalia colleague Michael G. Woodley shared an EP that he’s finished during shutdown. It’s awesome.
Yes, we might be socially distant, but we’re still all connected through our love of music. Even though we’re separated, every time we pick up our instruments, we’re playing together. Over the coming weeks, I’d encourage you to keep sharing those songs, those videos and those stories; to “Keep Talking,” as Pink Floyd once put it.
As always, the comments section is below. More, now than ever, we want to hear your thoughts, your stories and what you’re working on at the moment.
“If you want to be a rock star or just be famous, then run down the street naked, you'll make the news or something. But if you want music to be your livelihood, then play, play, play and play! And eventually you'll get to where you want to be.”
“I'm not a rock star. Sure I am, to a certain extent because of the situation, but when kids ask me how it feels to be a rock star, I say leave me alone, I'm not a rock star. I'm not in it for the fame, I'm in it because I like to play.”
The revolutionary impact of his playing reverberated pretty much from the get-go. Legend has it that when Van Halen supported Black Sabbath at London’s Hammersmith in 1978, half of the crowd vanished after Eddie and co. finished their set; decamping to nearby pubs to try and make sense of what they’d just witnessed. In the face of the literal Eruption that Edward brought to the stage, the lumbering, power chord chug of Iron Man was positively Jurassic.
“I never played one live! They were horrible," Stanley told Vintage Guitar in 1997. He was perhaps being uncharitable with that comment. Anyone who’s played a Marauder will likely tell you that they’re a fine – if unconventional – instrument. But you can see why Stanley, in a quest for KISS’s hard rock thunder, didn’t get on with the Fender-like axe. In the end, Stanley did find a purpose for the Marauder during KISS’s live shows...