But I Might As Well Have

Posted 3/29/08

Immediately upon arriving home, I fled to my bedroom and unpacked my guitar, set up the amplifier and placed the book in a convenient place.  I went through all of the notes and exercises my teacher had put me through – and I continued for hours.  I actually picked it up pretty quickly, and even mastered MHALL that night, site reading.  (Site reading is the art of looking at a piece of music, translating it to the correct timing, strings and/or positions on the instrument, playing it to those specifications and doing it on the fly.)

Then I went on to the next page and mastered that.  Then the next and the next and the next until I had gone through the whole book in about five days. 

In that time I had learned about notes (whole, half , quarter, and eighth), time (4/4, ¾), sharps and flats (one note above or below a natural note) and the rest of the major and several minor chords.  You might say that I was pretty into it.

And I learned just how badly finger tips could hurt…

Next Tuesday afternoon, 3:00 PM…

My dedication to the music lessons did not go un-noticed by my dad (or my mom or my brothers and sisters or the Fentons next door), so he was kind enough to give me a ride to my second guitar lesson…

Doorbell, open, “hi,” “hi,” guitar, sit, book, review, next page, play…

Teacher looked at me, sort of stunned.

“You’ve been practicing,” she remarked.

“Yes, I have,” I responded.

“A lot,” she said.

“Yes mam,” I answered.

“Just exactly how much of the book did you go through?” she asked.

“All of it,” I rejoined.

“That’s fifty pages!” she exclaimed.

” Yes, mam,” I replied.

“Turn to the last page in the book, please” she requested.

I complied.

“Please play this for me,” she insisted.

I did so… Almost perfectly…

“Wow… I don’t think you left anything for me to teach you,” she stated.

I didn’t understand what she was getting at, and I was feeling pretty good about my progress – rightly so, as I was about to find out. 

“Is that good?” I asked.

She smiled and said “Well, it means that you have taken this seriously and are learning a lot of music in a short period of time. But it also means that I don’t think I can teach you anything more – you need a more advanced teacher.”

I suddenly got it, and I was somewhat disappointed.  I was happy with her as a teacher, and didn’t really want to start looking for another one.

I had made a great impression on a female, albeit a really old one (she must have been in her mid thirties) but I had just “learned” myself out of a teacher…

By this time, my thirty minutes were up. She got a pen and paper and wrote the name and phone number of someone who she thought would be a better fit for my talents. I accepted it from her, and thanked her for having taught me and for the name of a new teacher…  I said goodbye, and walked out the door, not knowing that my formal music education had just ended for at least the next forty five years… Maybe forever…

Sometimes being too impressive is as dangerous as passing gas…   

  1. Bert Moraga Says:
    June 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm   editBilly: The fascination with flatulence has got to stop. It’s offensive and revolting. One more reference to it and I’m putting down this biography…and might even consider suing you under some sort of environmental/greenhouse gas law. Got it?
  2. billkammerer Says:
    June 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm   editBert: I look forward to your reaction to chapter 16…
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My Accidental Guitar or How Ebay Works

Posted 3/22/08

Well, ladies and gentlemen, here it is late Easter Sunday night, and Judy and I just got home from San Diego, hence, chapter 8 will have to wait til next weekend.

However, I thought I would take a few minutes and divert your attention with a short tale of educational woe… 

While writing this biography, I have dragged up lots of memories about which I have not thought in at least forty years.  One of them, in particular, has had an immensely nostalgic effect on me – my first guitar – the Sears Silvertone Model 1457 with the Amp in Case manufactured by Danelectro Company…  Why I ever sold it, I’ll never know – oh wait a minute – I sold it to buy a Sears Silvertone Model 1488 guitar and Sears Silvertone Twin Twelve Model 1485 Amplifier…

At any rate, I got to wondering if there was any information on the internet about the 1457 so I Googled it.   Google is stuffed with the thing. In fact, there is a picture of it at the end of chapter 6 that I found through Google.

As fate would have it, one of the sites where I found “my” guitar was Ebay.  I clicked on the link from the search engine and – Voila!  There were several from which to choose.  There were also several model 1448s – the single pickup, ¾ scale (18 fret) pre-curser to the 1457, one of which sort of caught my eye.

Not having any experience with Ebay, I started flipping through the pages and noticed that they all had a “watch list” button.  Apparently a free Ebay membership is required in order to use this feature, and when you use this feature, you get emails informing you that that particular auction is going to be coming to an end so you better get your bids in quick!

It was at this point that I also discovered PayPal, and how to sign up for that…  It’s not at all difficult.

I quickly built my watch list up to seven items, including a 1448 without the case included.

As the first auction was coming to a close, I decided to see if I could snag a 1457 for under $200.00.  With two hours left, the bid was $125.00 (I had seen where they had gone for up to $1500.00 – In fact, Mick Jagger had just sold his for something like $15,000.00 a few weeks before and 125.00 sounded like a great bargain).

At ten minutes left, I put in my very first Ebay bid – $127.50. I was the high bidder for about 30 seconds – it was exhilarating! Then I noticed a button labeled “maximum bid,” and I wondered what that was for.  I suspected that it was a way to name a max price I would be willing to pay for the item, and I confirmed my suspicion by utilizing the “help” feature on the site… I decided to get gutsy, and set a maximum amount of $180.00 and I became the high bidder again at $132.50 (I figured that nobody would get that high with only two minutes to go in the auction). 

One minute left and I was still the high bidder…

Thirty seconds left and I was still the high bidder…

Ten seconds left and I was still the high bidder – This was easy!!

Two seconds left and I was still the high bidder!!  Break out the champagne – I was going to get my guitar back!!

Zero seconds left – the winning bid was $182.50…

Wow… Somebody is really quick on the trigger…

Well, after some thinking and searching for information on how that could happen, the next “my guitar” was about to end in about an hour.  This time I was going to be ready.

This time, however, the current high bid was $214.00.  I did some unbelievable mathematics and decided that my max bid could be $328.08 (taking into account the advertised shipping costs) and waited till the auction was down to 20 minutes… I set my max at $328.08 and went away for awhile…

When I came back I still had the high bid of $280.00.  I was hopeful…  while I was gone, I did some mental scheming and planning.  I decided that I could get away with going over my established limit by a few bucks, and that I wasn’t going to lose out on this one at the last second… I developed a new – never before, in the history of Ebay, tried – strategy.  It involved the use of two computers, nearly inhuman coordination between the left and right sides of my body, an ungodly amount of patience and self-control, and a new maximum bid of $356.16.

The idea was to use my left hand to refresh the page on one computer so I could keep track of the high bids as time ran down, and my right hand to click the “place bid” button to enter my new max amount with as close to one second left as I could manage, thereby lifting my max bid to an amount I thought would be higher than the guy who was attempting to do roughly the same thing I was doing, but with less money.

I still had the high bid of $280.00 at the three minute mark…

I still had the high bid at the two minute mark…

I still had the high bid at the one minute mark…

At forty-five seconds, someone out bid me by $5.00…

Left hand refresh… Left had refresh… Left hand refresh…

At ten seconds the high bid was at $290.00 – the critical moment was almost here…

Left hand refresh…

Five seconds… still at $290.00… Right hand click – just a split second before the auction ended…

WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!!   WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!!   WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!!   WINNING BID!!!!!!!!!!! $756.plus a few cents…

Hmmm… I was chagrinned…

I decided that I needed some practice.

Ebay has a new tool called “Countdown.” It’s a free download, and it’s guaranteed not to generate unwanted spam or give your computer some sort of virus, so I downloaded it. 

What it does, basically, is display all of your “watch list” items, as well as the items you lost out on because you were so cheap.  You select the item on which you next want to bid and it pulls up the time left and current bid info.  And it counts down…  Like a shuttle launch, only you’re more emotional about the Ebay countdown, for some reason.

Well, I launched it, signed in and, sure enough, there were all of my watch list items.  And the ones I already lost because of inexperience and cheapedness. 

The next auction to expire was the exact guitar I didn’t really want, so I thought I would just bring it up to the top, watch the process and analyze the machinations of the system. There was still about an hour and a half left on this one, and the bid was stuck at about $170.00. I left the page up and went away to get in some exercise on the home gym in the garage.

When I came back, it was down to the eight minute mark and the bids were already up to $275.00. I could tell this was going to go berserk in just a few minutes – it had already come up over $100.00 since I started pumping iron.

I sat down at my computer, and decided that I didn’t want this guitar, but I wanted to practice on the system.  I used my major mathematical skills (using square roots, cosines, triangles and the theorems I had made up in Brother Anthony’s Geometry class) to come up with the perfect dollar amount to lose the bid on this guitar.  $301.96.

I also decided to wait till the clock ran down to five minutes before I placed my practice bid. 

Five minutes – I place my maximum bid…  I am the high bidder…

Two minutes – Current bid $280.00.  I was perfectly comfortable with that because I knew the real bidding starts at under one minute, and I’m only twenty-one dollars up.

One minute – The screen goes red and the bids start coming in…

Thirty seconds – $290.00 – Come on come on come on!!!

$299.00…

Fourteen seconds – Somebody bids $305.00 – Yeah baby!!  I’m off the hook and I’m NOT going to put in another bid! 

Countdown… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Auction over… My calculations were EXACTLY RIGHT ON THE MONEY!  I had this figured out…

Hmm… It still says I’m the high bidder… I looked again… Yes, that’s what it says, alright…

I went to my email and there it was…  The official “Congratulations! You Won” email from Ebay… 

Wait a minute – that’s not true.  I was outbid by a couple of dollars…

I investigated more closely…  I HAD figured it right. Unfortunately, I had transposed the “0″ and the “1″ when I set my maximum bid and had inadvertently set it at $310.96.  I had out-bid myself… I sat there in stunned silence…

At this point, I realized that I had just spent $305.00 plus shipping on a guitar I didn’t want to buy.  Now comes the Primal Scream, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” as I left my office and stumbled toward the other end of the house…

Judy DID NOT come out of her office at the other end of the house but yelled  “What did you buy?” just as I was walking in her door.  This was a tactical error on my part…

There are few things that make a man more uncomfortable than “The Look“.  One that comes close is “The Question“.  It always starts with the words “What did you…” and ends with something like “do…,” “mean by,“  “expect,” “say…,” or “buy“.

This, of course, was the “buy” version of “The Question.” 

The usual male response to “The Question” is two fold.

  • Fold One: Deer in the headlights look on the face while trying to formulate a verbal answer that is at once believable and safe.

  • Fold Two: Falling all over your tongue while trying to put into words the believable and safe answer that you have not quite yet formulated, but you know that if you don’t say something RIGHT NOW it will be too late no matter how plausible your answer sounds.

(Many couples have mastered the art of completely dropping the “What did you” part of “The Question” and just using the completing word or phrase, thereby saving effort on the part of the woman and jump-starting the misery for the man.  I am blessed that Judy utilizes the “Proper” form, giving me that extra second to try to come up with the answer that I know is not there.)

Because I had entered her domain, I had to deal with the lethal combination of “The Look” and “The Question”.  Unfortunately, I often loose sight of reality when I put myself into this situation, and I can’t get a sentence out without breaking into laughter.  (This has been especially dangerous on occasion, but I can’t help it.)

In one sense, this situation was different.  I had truly done this by accident, and no amount of clumsy wording on my part could change that fact.  However I was true to the male code and fumbled over my mouth to the point where I almost didn’t believe me and I KNEW it was TRUE.  I guess I can’t blame Judy for having her doubts….

Well, to make a long story end, mercifully, sooner than much later, the guitar was delivered on Thursday.  It’s forty-five years old,  It’s almost the size of a large ukulele and it took awhile to get used to the fact that it only has 18 frets.  But when you take into consideration that it’s probably the best sounding guitar I own (and I own several), it’s well worth it.

And, besides, I could have been practicing on a Cheeto that looks like Chuck Noris…

Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that I have been banned from Ebay… And not by Ebay….

Here’s a picture:

My Accidental Guitar

I’ll pick up with chapter 8 next weekend…

The First Guitar Lesson

An Old Friend Returns

Posted 3/15/08

Tuesday afternoon, 3:00 PM… 

Somehow I had managed to talk my dad into giving me a ride to my first guitar lesson.  I was excited to get started, and more than a little curious (and nervous) about the face that went with the cute voice on the phone…

As I got out of the car, I did a quick inventory of all of the important things I needed  – $4.00 – check… Guitar – check…  “Every Good Boy Does Fine” – check. 

That phrase had become my mantra over the previous four days.  I had no idea what it meant, but I was determined to make a good impression on the girl who had asked me to remember it.  (I had had a really bad experience about a year and a half earlier while trying to make a good impression on a girl in my class, back in Whittier…  I remember it all too well… It’s a painful memory, and probably accounts for why I’m still a bit shy around women…)

(Begin harp music)

…Her name was Cathy…  She lived just down the street from me, and we were in several classes together in the sixth grade.  She was smart and I was – me.  We didn’t talk much, but we had been neighbors and classmates since the fourth grade, and I thought she was kind of cute – she had blonde hair, a pageboy haircut, blue eyes behind, and framed by, some sort of tortoise shell looking glasses with fairly thick lenses.  Though I didn’t quite understand why, I really liked her and wanted to get to know her better. 

During class one day, we were instructed to form teams of two for some assignment or other.  I was about to team up with one of my buddies when I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned around and almost swallowed my tongue – there was Cathy – standing before me and looking all cute…

Our eyes locked, and for a short eternity, I was completely lost to all that was happening around me…  My universe had suddenly contracted to the exact space in which Cathy and I were standing… There were no stars, no planets, no moons, no sky, no sea, no people… There were only her eyes, and I was immersed in those two pools of blue – It truly was one of those incredibly rare moments in life when time becomes completely frozen in its temporal tracks.  And then she spoke… To ME…

She said “Billy, will you be my partner?” 

My heart joined my tongue, stuck in my throat… I didn’t know what to say… I – I stammered, searching for words, just – just the right words… What were the words I needed at this exact moment???  Where were they? The words that would be etched in her mind for all time as the most perfect, the most wonderful, the most – the most – the most – perfect statement that anyone could ever deliver at this, the most perfect moment in my life, so far??

Search as I might, the words wouldn’t come… So, rather than say something imperfect, I did the next worst thing… Simply stated, I farted.  It wasn’t of the great bull moose variety, mind you (I doubt it was heard in the principal’s office), but it was loud enough…  I had heard it, she had heard it, she knew that I had heard it, I knew that she had heard it. And, worst of all, we each knew that the other knew that we had each heard it…

This, of course, broke the spell…  She must have assumed that my flatulence was just my way of saying “No,” because she just turned away and found another partner.  

It is still, today, the most humiliating moment of my life.  And it’s also one of my great disappointments.  My one chance with the girl of my dreams, gone in an audible puff of methane.

Fortunately, it was not long after this that my dad was transferred to Ventura…

(End harp music)

With this memory making its way through my mind, I carried my guitar to the front door and, after a moment deciding if I really wanted to do this, I rang the bell.  A minute later the door opened and there she was… The person attached to the voice… Clearly this was NOT a first date, and I could stop worrying about any untimely releases of methane gas – at least from me…

She introduced herself and I did the same.  I wish I could remember her name, but I, at least, remember mine, and I’m of the belief that one out of two is better than none out of one.

She was actually very nice and made me feel quite comfortable in her home.  She led me to the living room and we sat, facing each other at about a forty-five degree angle, on two folding chairs.  She had an acoustic guitar sitting on a stand next to her chair and a wire music stand positioned so that we could both see whatever might be placed upon it.

She said “Why don’t you take out your guitar and we’ll get started?”  

I opened the case and extracted my Sears Silvertone Model 1457 electric guitar, and was pleased at her gasp of amazement… I could tell she was greatly impressed, and I knew that I had made the right choice of musical instruments. 

Next, she retrieved a book from an end table near her chair and placed it on the music stand. She opened it to a page with a picture of a guitar fret board, strings labeled with their names.

Now I had seen this before in the pamphlet, and heard it on the instructional record that came with the guitar, and I was glad to start with something familiar. We went over that chart and she made me name and play each string a couple of times and in different orders.

OK, I had that down pretty well so we moved on. Time to tune…

She demonstrated the proper method of tuning the guitar. I had that part figured out already, too, but I paid close attention in case there was some trick to tuning a guitar that may have been left out of the pamphlet. There wasn’t.

She could see that I was already proficient in the tuning of a guitar so, again, we moved on.

She turned the page, and there appeared a couple of bars of music – you know, with lines and stuff. 

F ———————————————–

D ———————————————–

B ———————————————–

G ———————————————–

E ———————————————–

This also looked familiar, but I didn’t understand it.  She was pleased that she had found the limits of my musical knowledge and she proceeded to tell me what this all meant.

“Do you remember what I asked you to remember,” she asked.

“Yes, mam,” I replied. “Every Good Boy Does Fine.”

“Excellent!”  She was obviously impressed with my memory.

“Here’s why I asked you to have that memorized before you came here today.”  And she explained to me the significance of that phrase. It’s a mnemonic device – an easy way to remember things.  (Another lesson in life.)

It seems that each of these lines represented a musical tone.

The bottom line was an E note. The next one up was a G, then B, D and F.  Hence,

“Every Good Boy Does Fine.”

Then she showed me how they related to the fret board on a guitar…

Starting with the second fret on the D (fourth) string, she showed and had me play the E, G, B, D and F notes in that and various other orders.  Over and over and over again.

I got that down, and we moved on down the page… This time, same lines but the labels were different.  They were between the lines, and the letters were F, A, C and E… they spelled FACE, like what’s on the front part of your head. 

She had me start on the third fret of the D string this time and put me through the same exercise with those notes.

Then my time was up for the week.  She said, “Here’s your homework assignment for next week. I want you to practice what we went over today. And,” she continued as she turned the page, “learn this song.”

Mary Had A Little Lamb…

At least I didn’t fart…

Every Good Boy Does Fine

Posted 3/8/08

Yeah, I know… Me, too…  I was practically dumbstruck… nearly completely without words.  And the only words I could think of at that precise moment was a two-part phrase beginning with the word “holy” that had actually gotten my mouth washed out with soap a few years earlier… 

With that event still fresh in my memory, I decided that silence is the better part of swearing, so, silent I remained… 

But I had just made an enormous leap in my understanding of rock and roll!  And though I was a bit numb at the prospect that I might really learn how to play a musical instrument of ANY sort, consciousness began to seep back into my, well, consciousness…  and the realization that I now knew something about music briefly gave me the sensation that I had died and gone to Heaven…

Well, maybe that’s stretching it a bit…  But it was pretty neat to know that I actually knew something about something about which I knew nothing just a few hours before.

After the initial shock of my first major musical discovery started to wear off, I gathered my wits about me and pressed onward…

It was time to really start practicing in earnest, though I didn’t actually look at the book (except for the chord chart) that much for awhile – I just practiced “Cupid”.  I knew the fingering of the G, C and D chords, but making the chord changes was a different matter altogether. 

I realized that no band would have me if it took me 30 seconds to switch from a G to a C and back again, so I practiced… a lot.  I got pretty good at going from G to C and C to G, but the transition from C to D was a bit awkward for me.  Then, of course, there was the transition back to G from D.  How could something so simple be so hard? ** (The answer to this question is a footnote at the end of this chapter, but you don’t need to go there now.)

After about a week of practicing the G, C, D chord progression in various combinations, I finally got it down pretty well, and without too much trouble, I had taught myself to play several other rock classics of the day (correctly, if not quickly). 

There was

  • Bye Bye Love, by The Everly Brothers
  • Peggy Sue, by Buddy Hollie

And, of course, the number one played song of all time

  • Louie Louie, by The Kingsmen

It was a challenge to sing and play at the same time for awhile.  And the fact that:

  • (The rumored lyrics in Louie Louie + My voice)

= (soap + rag + my mouth)…

…Made me content to skip the vocal portion of that song  and concentrate on the guitar part alone.

And so I progressed, eventually picking up more songs as I went along. 

Until one day I wanted to learn “Come Go With Me” by the Del Vikings…

Oh-oh… It was time to learn the First Mathematical Law of Rock and Roll…:

“If 90% of rock songs require the use of only 3 chords, then the other 10% MUST require the use of a different number of chords.”

…And the Second Commandment of Rock and Roll:

“Less than .00000000000000001% of Rock and Roll songs require the use of fewer than 3 chords.”

Because “Come Go With Me” did not meet the criteria of the Second Commandment, it, mathematically speaking, required the use of more than 3 chords – in this case, 4 chords.  I was fortunate that 3 of the 4 chords needed happened to be the exact 3 chords already in my inventory of practiced chords.

AND it was time to learn the Third Commandment:

“Not all chords are Major chords.”

Ouch…

The learning was coming fast and furious, now, and I decided that I needed help in managing my education. But who could I get to teach me?  I was pretty sure that Mr. Powers was out (refer to chapter 1).  I would have asked my dad, and I really think he might have done it except for two things:

1.   He didn’t know anything about how to play a guitar and

2.   He hated rock music

I thought about asking the Fentons if they might be of assistance, but I wanted my progress to be a surprise to them (as it would turn out, it would be a complete and utter shock).

Reality set in – I would have to lay out cold hard cash and pay for guitar lessons.

I went to the family room, picked up the current edition of  the Ventura Star Free Press, turned to the classified ads and started looking for something that looked like it might contain guitar lessons.  I found “Music Lessons.”  Hmm.. That sounded promising…  Yes, guitar lessons would probably be in there…

“OK, let’s see… Piano lessons – lots of those available.

“Violin lessons – several of those going on.”

There were Flute lessons, Tuba lessons, Trumpet lessons, Drum lessons (too late for that), Harp lessons, Cello lessons, Viola lessons, Voice lessons, Harmonica lessons, Accordion lessons, Saxophone lessons, Xylophone lessons, Obo lessons, Piccolo lessons, Ski lessons (What???), Bassoon lessons, Organ lessons, Bell lessons, Triangle lessons, Autoharp lessons (John Sebastian played one of those, so it couldn’t be all bad), Harpsichord lessons and at the very bottom of the last column of the right hand page, Tambourine lessons…

Wait a minute… Everybody needs guitar lessons!  Where are the guitar lessons?

I was stunned.  I let the classified section of the current edition of the Ventura Star Free Press slip from between my fingers and settle slowly to the ground…

Fortunately, it settled with the next page facing up, and there, at the very top of the very first column, was the end of the “Music Lessons” section of the classified ads.  And right there was an ad for – you guessed it – Kazoo lessons.  Kazoo lessons!  And there were 4 people teaching kazoo right there in the city of Ventura, California!

BUT just beneath the Kazoo lesson listings was one more final line in the “Music Lessons” section.  It didn’t even have a bold header.  In fact, it didn’t have a header at all… It was lucky it had a space separating it from the last kazoo ad, just above it…  It was a simple, though, to me, very powerful ad… It was just 3 scrawny “words”:

Guitar Lessons 555-5555   

(Not the real number)

It was sort of sad, really, but it was exactly what I had been seeking.

I called the number, and a female voice answered “Hello.”  I was somewhat taken aback by the voice of a woman – up to that point in my life (with the exception of my Grandmother – refer to chapter 1), I don’t think I had ever spoken to a girl on the phone and it threw me for a loop.  I stammered a reply “Uh – h-hell-o.  Do you give, uh,  g-guitar lessons?” 

“Oh my, yes,” she said.  “Would you like to learn to play the guitar?”

“Uh… Yeah.  How much is it?  Th-The guitar lessons, I m-mean?” 

“$2.00 per lesson.  Lessons are 30 minutes long, once a week.  And there’s a book that costs $2.00. How does that sound?”

“$2.00 a week?” 

I started calculating the cost of lessons each month – about $8.00.  Add to that my mortgage payment of about $7.00 and the $2.00 for the book.  That came to $15.00 per month plus the book.  If I was not too extravagant with the candy and soda pop, I could swing that easily enough just on my babysitting jobs. Plus the fact that I was about to be confirmed, and I figured that would be good for $30 or $40 from relatives, etc.  Hmmm… Too bad you can only be confirmed once…

“OK,” I replied.  “How do I get there?”

I told her where I was coming from, and she told me how to get to her house.  It was about 5 miles, but I would find someway to get there…

My mind was spinning… For the first time in my life, I was talking with a female on the phone – AND she had given me her address – AND I was going to go to her house…  I was a bit nervous, actually – did I just make my first date?

Then, just before we said “goodbye,” she said “I want you to remember one thing  before you come over next Tuesday.  Can you do that for me?”

“Yes,” I replied.  “Um… What is it?”

“Every Good Boy Does Fine.  See you Tuesday,” and she hung up the phone…

My First Real Guitar…

 

Sears Silvertone Model 1457 with the Built In Case Amplifier

 Footnotes: 

** ” How could something so simple be so hard?”

Here, another great lesson in life was revealed to me:  The words “Simple” and “Easy” are not synonyms.  I don’t even think the actual definitions share any letters in common.  I wanted them to be the same, but the best I could do was to make up my own definition of each…  After much contemplation, I decided that:

  • The concept of Simplicity is conceptual
  • The concept of Easiness is procedural

For instance:

  • The concept of a G, C , D chord progression is simple, not confusing.

  • The process of putting them together on the fret board of a guitar for the first time is hard, not easy.

So that (applying the Bill Kammerer “’swapping the order’ law of equality” to the second statement):

  • Simple = Not Confusing
  • Easy = Not Hard

By doing this, I was at least able to come up with definitions that shared a common word:  “Not.”

The only thing that I could determine about the mutual sameness of the two concepts is that they are “NOT” the same.

Therefore:  Simple ¹ Easy

(This, sadly, was the closest thing to a mathematical equation I had ever achieved up to that point.  In fact, it was better than the theorems I made up, from scratch, for future  (un-studied for) math exams in Brother Anthony’s geometry class at St. Bonaventure High School  – Yet another topic not to be covered in this biography.)

  1. jrosile Says:
    March 9, 2008 at 8:29 pm   editDad, I FINALLY got to sit down and read. I planned on reading the first one again and then chapter two to go on to three sometime later or tomorrow. I couldn’t get away from the computer until I finished Chapter 6! Hilarious!
    I can’t wait to see more. )
  2. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
    March 10, 2008 at 9:16 am   editI remember you practicing “Louie-Louie,” over & over again. It was interferring with my favorite TV show, “Felix the Cat.” I missed quite a few episodes during that period of your new-found love affair. Thanks, man, you owe me one.
  3. Bert Moraga Says:
    June 25, 2008 at 2:16 pm   editBilly…I’m deeply concerned that you may not have been paying tax on all those gardening and babysitting fees. If we compound 35 years of interest and the penalties applicable…well, let’s put it this way: Can you say “the Slammer”? Hmmm? Not to worry I’m here to help. For a reasonable retainer I will be glad to negotiate your case for you.

The Answer

Posted 3-1-08

You know, flying can be an adventure…  I flew this week, and it was not an adventure, but it was somewhat interesting, in a masochistic sort of way. 

The interesting thing about my hometown airport is that you cannot get anywhere from here. You always have to go somewhere else to get where you want to go…

Of equal interest is the fact that the reverse is also true – you can’t get here from anywhere else, either, without going somewhere you don’t want to be before you can get home… It’s not unlike the concept of Purgatory…

I had been sitting on planes and in airports since early afternoon, so imagine my elation when, after a 3 hour layover in Las Vegas, 11:25 PM finally rolled around and it was time to board flight 2791 to Fresno (my home airport)! Woohoo!  Everybody boarded and we were all ready to take off.  Then came the wonderful news that the 1 hour 10 minute flight could be done in 30 minutes because the route could be changed due to the lateness of the hour. (I was soon to discover that this was a lie.  Oh, the flight time could be reduced, but not – really – for the stated reason…)

This, indeed, was wonderful news and was greeted with great joy by all of the passengers – The entire plane was abuzz with excitement…  Then the pilot announced that we would be taking off at a speed of 150 miles per hour – I have never heard that announcement in my entire travel life, but was happy to know that we wouldn’t be just-a-moseying down the runway and attempting to launch into space at 5 MPH.

11:55 PM:  We push back from the gate and begin to taxi to the runway.  The anticipation starts to build…

12:10 AM:  We are still taxi-ing to the runway.

12:15 AM:  We are still taxi-ing to the runway.

12:25 AM:  We are still taxi-ing to the runway.

Keep in mind that we are actually moving this entire time. The lady sitting next to me asked “Shouldn’t we be going faster than this?”  I think we were taking a few warm up laps around the city of Las Vegas.

To say that the people on board were anxious would be a severe understatement…  To say the flight attendants were probably considering taking over the cockpit and getting us off the ground before Global Warming is declared dead is probably a lot closer to the truth.  (The flight attendants were not immune to the frustration.  The one in the back of the rather small plane turned to one of the passengers and said “come on – take off already!”)

Finally, at 12:35 AM the wheels went up and we were actually flying!  And we DID make the flight in 30 minutes!

At some point during the “Sunday drive,” I figured out the trick for reducing the flight time:  You can’t do it by changing course in the air. You have to do it by driving ¾ of the way to your destination before you take off.  Really – it works!

Right about now you are probably wondering what this has to do with the Central doctrine of Rock and Roll.  Well, absolutely nothing.  But it has EVERYTHING to do with keeping you in suspense…

Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Many of you clicked on the ‘Mystery Link” at the end of Chapter 4.  I applaud you for your industriousness!

For those of you who didn’t go that way, the link led to a once in a lifetime opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the Great Secret of Rock and Roll.  Those who went there got a chance to guess at what the Secret is, and, I must say, there were some good guesses.  For example:

  • “To make the music easy to dance to” – that was really close, but not quite right.
  • “Good beat to dance to and simple lyrics” – That one was even closer, but still a little short.
  • “To channel Elvis” – this was my personal favorite, but not even on the same stage as the real truth. Sorry…

To those of you who got it right, you are either guitar players or incredibly good guessers.

Anyway, now that I had become enlightened, I was stunned at how simple Rock music really is (or was at that time, which, of course, was the time when I was discovering how simple it was).

Once I figured out “Cupid”, it was just a matter of listening to other songs I wanted to learn to play and adapting what I had learned in “Cupid” to those pieces.  If my new-found knowledge wasn’t so exciting, it would have been really boring and I may never have progressed beyond “Cupid.”

OK.  Are you ready?

Really ready?

You’re not just saying that to make me get on with it, are you?

If you’re not ready, you had better say something RIGHT NOW, because if you don’t I’m gonna tell you and spoil the surprise…

So if that’s where you are, you better shut your eyes before you read the next line…

Not this line – a couple of lines down…

The “Real Secret” of Rock and Roll is…

90% of rock songs require the use of only 3 chords… 

OK, those of you who weren’t ready can open your eyes now…

  1. Ms. Kathleen Ann Margaret Kammerer Marsh! Says:
    March 4, 2008 at 10:23 am   editWell, I hope the last episode of “LOST!” isn’t as jaw-dropping. I don’t think my heart can take it!

    On another note, at least your plane took off and landed safely!

  2. Shawn Kammerer Says:
    March 20, 2008 at 9:39 pm   editI’d just like to say that rock music has evolved substantialy since my father’s musical enlightenment; that 90% is now down to 85%. 10% of the remainder figured out how to include a fourth chord, and the other 5% forgot how those first three chords went, and abandoned the whole concept of chords.
  3. Patrick Says:
    August 4, 2008 at 8:18 am   editShawn’s right, but I wanted to add that (so far as I know), the first well-known rock groups to use more than three chords were The Beatles and the Beach Boys.

    Not that the three chords have ever really been eclipsed. Think of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” for example. Three chords, and it still waxes lesser songs on radio station playlists everywhere.