Every Good Boy Does Fine
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).
- 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.”
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…
** ” 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
- 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 ≠ 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.)