“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.
In the world of rock n’ roll, they don’t come much more iconic than Chuck Berry. One of the most influential players of all time, the likes of John Lennon, Keith Richards and Angus Young owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Chuck and the legacy of music he created. It goes without saying, then, that studying Chuck’s playing is about as fundamental a course in rock guitar as you can get. Today, we’re highlighting three ways that you can achieve that classic Chuck Berry sound.
As rock critic Colin Maguire noted, on one side were the Collins detractors who claimed "[Genesis] sold out and became too corporate when Collins stepped into the spotlight." On the other were those who argued that “the [prog-heavy] Gabriel years were boring and hard to stomach.” Today, those factions remain.
Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi is the man who invented heavy metal. “War Pigs,” “Children of the Grave,” “Symptom of the Universe”: those seismic riffs presented a blueprint that a generation of hard rock axe-wielders would follow. Circa 1970, Iommi’s playing sounded like nothing out there. His doom-leaden, monolithic, end-of-the world riffs were, well, heavy… man.