Wednesday, June 25, 2014

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 25: An Acoustic Song You Love

At this point in my life, I've been playing guitar for about twenty years.  I never had a lesson and I'm not what you would call a very good guitarist, but my skills have been passable-enough to make do in several bar bands and around many a campfire over the years. I got my first guitar at age 19 in a trade for rent money from one of my roommates.  There were nine people living in our large and largely-unkempt house in Boston then, in the early-90's, five of whom were members of a local band, no kidding, called "Bob." So, when one of the guys couldn't make rent one month and offered to give me his old acoustic guitar if I'd cover his part, it seemed as good an opportunity as I'd ever have to try to learn an instrument.  I used to take my guitar down into our basement, where Bob practiced, and just watch them play for hours... then, I'd climb back up the stairs, sit in my room, try to mimic what I saw the guys doing, and (in the words of Bryan Adams) play until my fingers bled.  I only lived in that house with Bob for about a year, but that was enough time for me to learn the 6 or 7 chords necessary to play country, blues and rock n' roll.

Without a doubt, that was the best $85 I spent in my entire life.

It wasn't until many years later that I began writing songs myself and, more generally, feeling comfortable taking some creative liberties with the songs I played.  That's when playing the guitar became really fun, not to mention also therapeutic, and when I probably developed the most as a player.  Still, as anyone who plays an instrument knows, there are also times that one's skill-level kind of plateaus, when you find yourself just playing what you know over and over and over.  Those can be long-lasting and frustrating intervals, when you feel like you're in a rut, like there's nothing new or interesting about your instrument anymore.  And that is a miserable feeling.

About six years ago, I was in one of those ruts when Beyonce Knowles' B'Day album came out. One of the hit singles off of that album was "Irreplaceable," and everybody everywhere was letting you know the box you own was "to the left, to the left."  Anyway, I found myself sitting around in the living room with some of guitar-playing friends and "Irreplaceable" came on the stereo and I thought to myself: that's a pretty straightforward song, and it begins with a guitar strum... I wonder if I could play it?  So, I did. And, in doing so, I climbed out of my miserable guitar-playing rut.

Since then, I've discovered that one of my favorite things to do with a guitar is to play acoustic versions of whatever is on the radio.  The less "acoustic" the original song, the more I like to do it acoustically.  As it turns out, Queen Bey herself also thought that "Irreplaceable" was a pretty good contender for acoustic performance.  Here she is, irreplaceable and unplugged:

For the record, my second favorite non-acoustic song to play acoustically is Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."  I kill that one, f'real.

Here's your quick-access link to the entire 30 Day Song Challenge 2014 prompt-list and my picks for each day.

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