“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.
When it comes to breakout singles, they don’t get much better than “You Really Got Me.” The 1964 track didn’t just put the Kinks on the map; it changed the rock n’ roll landscape with its incendiary guitar tone. “You Really Got Me” brought distorted guitar to the masses. It’s the genesis of all things hard and heavy in rock. And, as the legend goes, it was an act of aggression from Kinks guitarist Dave Davis that created the sound and started an amplifier revolution in the process.
That the instrumental Albatross was a mammoth hit for Fleetwood Mac is testament to the lyrical nature of Green’s guitar playing. One of the biggest selling instrumental songs in English history, it’s the track that the Beatles wished they’d written. As Rolling Stone notes: “Its heavily reverbed guitar partially inspired the Beatles’ “Sun King.” “We said, ‘Let’s be Fleetwood Mac doing “Albatross,” just to get going,’ ” George Harrison recalled. “It never really sounded like Fleetwood Mac … but that was the point of origin.”