Friday, April 29, 2005

A Guitarist In the Making - Part II

DOD American MetalThings didn’t really go any better with my guitar playing once I got back to college. There were a couple of people that I knew from my freshman year who played, so I looked them up to see what I could learn.

One of them, Andrew (who lived in the wacky dorm for the students who considered themselves to be more “unique” than the rest of the student body), had a few musical interests that were similar to mine, so I dragged my equipment over to his place one night to see what would happen. I vividly remember him attempting to teach me “She Sells Sanctuary” by The Cult, but it seemed completely wrong to me. He was showing me some chord progression, which sounded fine, but it didn’t sound anything like the song. Where was its cool main riff? The part that, when heard on the radio, made you say, “Turn that shit up!” The answer: Andrew simply wasn’t good enough to learn or play anything cool on the guitar.

A week later Andrew played a solo composition, “Dead Dogs Don’t Bark,” at a gala for the entering freshman. I’ll never forget the goofy stance and weird foot motions he made while playing that song. It was anything but cool. It was not what I was aspiring towards. The answer to what I sought was, in fact, much closer than the fruity dorm where Andrew resided.

The solution lay with Flynn, a guitar playing freshman who was one of the five other people that lived in my nerdy engineering suite. He owned pretty crappy equipment as well (an Epiphone Stratocaster copy, dubbed “Satan”, and an Epiphone amp that, while sucky, was definitely better than mine). The difference between Flynn and Andy was that that when Flynn played, people sat up and took notice. Flynn’s playing, simply put, had soul.

Part of it was undoubtedly due to his long hair – it makes one instantly play better (well, at least look the part of a guitarist, since Flynn had to cut his hair almost immediately for his military based scholorship, and it didn’t affect his playing). Part of it was due to his DOD American Metal pedal, which gave him a crunch that I was sorely lacking with my Overdrive Plus. But 99% of it was because Flynn was, in fact, the real deal. Every day after class, he would come home, plug in, and jam away. When he played, it was so recognizable that you instantly knew what tune he was playing. He had the ability to deconstruct a song to its core elements, and then figure out the easiest way to play those elements with feeling and style.

And style he had in droves. Flynn knew all the tricks that made a metal song a metal song. Slides down the string, pick slides, note bending, tremolo dive bombing, muted power chord chugging, low string riffing – it was all in his repertoire. He could do it all in perfect time as the original song played on the stereo, methodically tapping his foot to the beat. He would take the "metal stance" after striking a particularly meaty low E power chord. He could make his guitar sound like a motorcycle, switching gears as it sped down the highway. Flynn could play the cool hammer-tap portion of Van Halen’s “Eruption” (yep, you know the part I speak of). Hell, he could even swing the guitar in a full circle around his neck, then play it behind his head. He was so much the real deal that I remember experiencing the spectacle of another freshman, Dean, mouth held agape, kneeling in front of Flynn as he played, offering sacrificial tribute to his metal god.

And perhaps most stupefying, Flynn, in the most laid back manner imaginable, assured me that he was no good, and that I too could learn it all.

He was, of course, dead wrong with regards to the fact that he wasn’t any good, but thankfully, dead on with regards to teaching me. Back then I didn’t really know if I should believe him, but for the first time since getting my guitar, I was truly inspired. I made it a mission to digest as much as I could from Flynn before the school year ended.


Anonymous Flynn_42 said...

Ah, Dean. I wonder whatever happened to him. That was funny.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool blog you have. I have a clarinet e concerto
related site. Check it out if you get a chance. The URL is clarinet e concerto

9:38 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home