Follow by Email

Monday, June 13, 2011

11: This One Goes to....

     In the 60's we all had aspirations to be in a band. The Beatles and the Monkees had seen to that. And I pestered, yes pestered was the word she used, my mother for a guitar.

     While having taken piano lessons as a child and having excellent taste in music in general, I felt she must not be as knowledgeable on stringed instruments. She gave me a ukulele one birthday.
     "What's this?" I asked, as if I'd been cheated which is what I felt at the time.

     " It's a Ukulele" she replied.

     " This isn't a Guitar. I wanted a guitar" I complained. I've always been one to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when I was a kid. This is why I appreciated the advent of the gift card so much.

      "It is a guitar. Ukulele is Hawaiian for "Little Guitar". It isn't. It's actually translates to "jumping flea" in Hawaiian, but when you're lying to to a child it's important to sound as if you have authority on a subject..

     "I've never seen John, Paul or George play ukuleles"

     "They did when they were your age".

     I had no answer and, as it turned out, she got lucky on that one.  I saw the above picture not long afterwards. Still it wasn't a guitar and, as far as I was concerned, it was still on.

     Finally the Christmas I was 8 years old I got it. It was made out of particle board and had pictures of cowboys on it, but it was full size, and mine.

    Full size was the problem. I had and have smallish hands (admittedly they're bigger now than then, thank you) which kept me from being able to chord properly. Add to that, the guitar couldn't hold a tune, and we couldn't afford lessons, so when I played it sounded pretty awful.

     However...My uncle who I didn't see often knew a little guitar showed me how to play the bass line for ''Louie Louie". It only needed one finger on the fret and the fact that I had to change frets during it impressed the hell out of my friends and I was invited to join their band.

     We had no name. We had no talent.. None of us could play. We did have the one place to play. The front entrance to Rose Avenue Public School, on good weather...  until somebody told us to shut up.

  And every song had the bass line for "Louie Louie"


  1. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure every rock'n'roll tune, at least for a while there, had the same bass line as Louie Louie.

  2. You also thought that every song recorded after 1972 was done by Steely Dan

  3. LOL! This was a gem. Can you still play that bass line?

  4. I actually can. In the intervening 40 something years, I managed to learn to sort of play guitar. Knowing now what I didn't then, if I could go back in time I would tell younger me a bunch of stuff, but most importantly "it's not as hard as you think it is..." That and how to tune. BTW I'm finally learning how to play a ukulele. But don't tell my Mom.

  5. Are you trying to tell me the incredibly versatile Steely Dan was NOT the key element in each and every hit tune for the past 40 years??

  6. No...Not at all...They did and still do...Pink? All Steely Dan.