Friday, April 13, 2012

Fun with the Wilson Girls and Why does a Drummer Play Rocksmith, Anyway?

Despite the fact that I've scored over 100k on Barracuda, I still haven't mastered it. I've still got FIVE phrases to master before I'll master the song, and two of those phrases are solos. Naturally. I'm pretty sure I can do it but I'm in no hurry on this one.

Last night, after a pretty tough work-out on Carol of the Bells, I just played through Barracuda because - as I've said before - it's FUN! I really don't care about mastering it (although it would seem silly not to go ahead and do so). I play it well enough to enjoy it and that's good enough for me. Playing Barracuda sort of represents my whole reason for playing guitar at all.

I've never aspired to be a great guitar player or even to play guitar for money in a band. That's what I play drums for (not that my phone is ringing off the hook on that count, either). But, I didn't buy Rocksmith because I needed a fresh, new video game. I'm not really even into video games. In fact, I bought an XBox just so I could play Rocksmith. Clearly I have some motivation to learn to play guitar. So, if my goal isn't to become a great guitar player, what is it?

Well, one thing I think I figured out this week driving home from work is that I'm sort of a jealous musician. Over the many years I've played drums, I've encountered I don't know how many guitar players and singers and pianists and bass players who think they can play drums. It seems like everybody who can clap and has access to a set of drums and a pair of sticks thinks they're a drummer. Some of them actually can sort of carry a basic beat and some can even throw in a fill or two. I find that very annoying for some reason. Like drums are just some kind of noisemaker that anybody can just sit down and play? Or, that drummers are just the suckers willing to hump all that gear around? Bullocks to that. One of my motives for learning guitar is simply a compulsion to be able to play guitar at least as well as your average guitar player can play drums. 

But, there's more to it than that. Otherwise, I'd have to learn to play just about every single other musical instrument there is, plus learn to sing. And, frankly, if I were to do that, I'd just learn to play the piccolo and be done with it. One case that you could practically stick in your hip pocket? That'd be awesome. I could ride a motorcycle to gigs and be the first one out the door at the end of the night. Say what you want about dragging an amp around, unless you're playing soccer stadiums most guitar players could fit their guitar and amp into a Cooper Mini. If you are playing soccer stadiums, you aren't dragging your own amp around anyway. When I decided to be a drummer, I doomed myself to a lifetime of driving station wagons or vans or at least pick-up trucks. Actually, I could fit a six-piece set into the 71 Volvo 144 which was my very first car. And, I could get a five-piece kit into the 84 Jaguar XJ6 I drove overseas. Those two cars had surprisingly large trunks! They don't make cars like that any more.

[I may have to do a whole separate blog piece on good vehicles for drummers. . . ]

I don't know that I really chose to be a drummer. I've always felt that I was sort of born to play drums. My experience with guitars sort of supports that belief. I don't have to work all that hard at playing drums. I just do it. I've had to work at guitar. Hard. I know at least a couple of guys who worked pretty hard at playing drums and just didn't have it. So, I think some people are just naturally inclined to play certain instruments and not others. But, dammit, playing guitar looks like a lot of fun. I want some of that!

Until Rocksmith came along, I just fiddled around blindly on my guitar with no real direction. I wasn't going to pay for guitar lessons because I really never felt that I had enough potential to make it worth the expense. I never even bothered buying or even downloading free tabs and trying to learn songs. I figured if I couldn't learn guitar the way I learned drums - by just playing along with songs I really liked - I just wasn't meant to play guitar. So, my guitar mostly gathered dust for years at a time. When I did play it, I didn't really have much fun because I couldn't really do anything with it. It was like having a really cool toy that you can't find batteries for - it's still a cool toy and you pick it up and mess with it occasionally, but it's just not much fun.

Rocksmith has pretty much put the batteries in my guitar playing. Barracuda happens to be one of those songs from my younger years that I probably cranked up on the radio when the parents were out. I may or may not have also totally rocked out in front of the bathroom mirror on my fretless/neckless/pickup-less Les Paul Air to this song. Now, I can actually pretty much rock that song on a REAL guitar. Will I ever play in front of a thousand real fans? Probably not. But, I could. And, knowing that is worth every penny I spent on Rocksmith.

Not only am I finally getting my money's worth out of the Epiphone Les Paul Special II that I bought a few years ago, I've learned enough from Rocksmith that I can take my 35-year old Alvarez acoustic to the ballpark and play at least a few songs from memory on it, too. I've bought 8 more guitars since I started playing Rocksmith! I'm not looking to put any guitar players out of a job - and I don't think anybody has anything to worry about there, but I'm having a blast.

Always wanted to jam with Ann and Nancy. Now I can.

1 comment:

  1. ALL I can say that drummers who pick up the guitar tend to be some of the best rythym players out there. They add so many interesting percussive sounds to their playing its just awesome.

    As a guitar player who decided it was time to learn the drums I knew it was gonna be no easy task but I enjoy playing drums for a new prespective to music.