This weekend I had a goal.
I wanted to play every song I had ever learned to play on the guitar. I would play each song once, and move on to the next song. I would start with the song that I am currently learning (Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’) and end with the first song I learned. (The Beatles ‘Hey Jude’)
In my estimation, over the 2-1/4 years, I’ve learned about 300 songs. I didn’t come close to playing them all.
I sat down with my music on Saturday afternoon. I cranked through about 20 songs pretty quickly. Eric Clapton, Beatles, Paul Simon, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Eagles, Pure Prairie League, The Allman Brothers, The Rolling Stones and even solos from John Lennon and George Harrison.
But I couldn’t play each song only once.
I found myself trying to improve small mistakes and difficult parts. I would go back and play a certain section over and over. Then I’d tackle the entire song again. I found myself trying to fuse together acoustic and electric parts together into one mega part – so I could play all my favorite parts of a song.
I started experimenting with playing songs in different keys, to make them easier for me to sing. (Down ½ step from standard tuning seems to be my magic key.) And of course, I played with different guitars, depending on the song, to see if I liked the way one guitar sounded over the other.
By the time that I realized that I was breaking my own rules, I decided that I was never going to make it through all the songs I’d ever learned. So I started cheating. Tunes that are basically the same musically over and over again – I would play about ½ the song. Verse, bridge, chorus. Done. Maybe I’d play the ending, if it had an interesting change at the end. But mostly, I’d just stop.
By Sunday morning, I had made my way through about 75 songs. I will admit my hands were tired. Somewhere I decided to figure out some interesting ‘walk up and walk downs’ to a song to give the impression of the bass line while playing the rhythm part. I switched to an hour of finger picking (which I’m not very good at doing, and I just wanted to force myself to do something that’s not easy for me to do.)
After a huge break to watch a football game, I got back to it after dinner on Sunday. At some point, my son joined me and started jamming with me on the drums. That was fun for a few minutes.
And then it hit me. Somewhere in the middle of playing a Neil Young song I realized that I didn’t have to finish. Pink Floyd would have to wait until another day. As would Lynard Skynyrd, Mountain and Boston and The Yardbird and The White Stripes, The Youngbloods, ZZ Top and dozens more.
But I did play ‘Hey Jude’ to end my weekend. I think it was a perfect song to finish on. It was the first song I learned. The song that got me hooked. The band that made me fall in love with popular music. And I could sing along without changing the key.
What could be better.
I’m looking for more song suggestions. Please comment below some songs you think I’d enjoy playing. Thanks and have a great week.