One of the main styles of music that brought me into guitar playing was the blues. It was something about the rawness and the emotion in the blues that touched me deeply. It was almost a right of passage to get to actually play the blues……something earned not given.
I once heard an interview with Eric Clapton and he recalled when he was younger how he would admire the older bluesman…..how they played, how they dressed, how they sang the blues. He knew that time was the passage and there were no shortcuts to being a bluesman…….. you had to do your time. Playing the blues was accurately noted with the quote “Blues are simple, yet not necessarily easy.” That didn’t make a lot of sense at first until I started taking guitar lessons from Paul Chester who made everything look easy….especially the blues. At first I wanted to do all of the tricky licks and sound like my heroes Stevie Ray, BB King, Albert King, and Buddy Guy. That all changed when I went and saw BB King live. He is older now and has a chair he sits in on stage. After the music starts, they walk him to his chair, he straps on his guitar and acknowledges the crowd that is going nuts by now. He slowly reaches down and hits one note… ..ONE NOTE….and says “Hello I am BB King” and the crowd went NUTS. One note and he brought the house down….amazing.
Needless to say, since that day I have been working on that one note. To me that is the difference between simple and easy. It’s like my yoga teacher Robert said “this pose is simple but at first it will not be easy.” He was right……simple and easy fit into many metaphors.
What I am finding out, not only about my guitar playing, is that I am moving toward simple AND easy. It’s about the soul for me and when I can get to a place of simplicity, life gets easier for me. When I complicate my life it becomes harder yet I spent many years attempting to “learn that hard lick” until recently when my godson Blake Abbott told me that I had more soul in my guitar playing than anybody he knew……..simple and easy……..getting closer to that one note.
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