Let It B

IMG_1232I got my 4yo son a drum kit for Christmas, not some little flimsy Toys R Us unit, but a real miniature one by way of our local pawn store. B loves it and has already declared it the best Xmas present he received. I set it up down in our shed and have taken my electric guitar and amp down there, too.

So far, I’ve gone down and turned on the space heater and let it warm up a little before we get bundled up and head down to the shed where B sits at his little stool and gets going by whacking away at the skins. Then I begin to play, usually just an E chord with the “gain” turned up for maximum fuzz, which B seems to approve of but depending on where I go from there it can all come to a halt.

B and I have been jamming for months and months, me on the electric or acoustic guitar, B on an old single drum that one of my brothers was going to throw away but instead bequeathed to us. For weeks and weeks, months and months, I’d play a simple blues chord progression and B would bang away. I also introduced a couple other tunes, like a bastardization of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” or Led Zeppelin’s “Over the Hills and far Away,” or just a few crude melodies I’ve strung together on my own.

At some point, B began to pick up the beat and as he did so he gained confidence in his perceived musical abilities. This is when he began to seize control of our band as I quickly went from band leader and lead singer to merely the guitarist.

Now when I play something he recognizes, he quickly stops drumming and barks at me to stop. “That’s an old song,” he says. “We’re not playing any old songs, only new.” I shake my head. I have limited abilities on the guitar and am stretched to create on the guitar but nevertheless shrug and begin banging on an E chord again but reach for other chords.

He also changed the name of our band. I initially called us Hot Junk which I thought was a good name for a garage–or shed–band but then he overruled me. “Our band is called the Camo (as in camouflage) Color,” he announced one day, and he reminds me of it every time I drift into a familiar riff. We are only supposed to make new music, and when I don’t and he brings the hammer down on me I just swallow his abrupt direction.

It’s kind of funny to me, but still a little abrasive being bossed around to such a degree, especially within a creative context. It always reminds me of the famous scene from the Beatles’ film Let It Be when Paul McCartney tries to tell George Harrison what or not what to play. “I’ll play, you know, whatever you want me to play,” George says, “or I won’t play at all if you don’t want to me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.”

I need to memorize this quote and start saying it back to B. I know he will be unfazed by my truculence, but maybe it will make me feel a bit better about being bossed around. Either way, we are Camo Color and we only make new music. There is no changing that.


“Baby G, Baby G, Is Getting Some Teeth.” Play It With Me.

I probably spend an hour each day–sometimes more–playing guitar while my now nine-month-old baby bounces along in his Fisher Price jumper. He appears to love it when I pick up the instrument and strum the first chords, in particular the pattern of one progression that is a crude take on the blues. I’ve played it for months and months it seems, but he always picks up on the rudimentary rhythm and bounces in time, occasionally he even sings–or moans–along. I always toy with different words, but this weekend stumbled across a few about G’s just getting some teeth. Any baby’s name would fit where his does, so feel free to adapt it to your own uses, I’ve got no copyright. The tab is below:

(E) Baby G, baby G, is (A) getting (open chord) some (E) teeth.

(E) Finally, finally, may (A) be (open) even (E) three.

That’s it. Play it over and over until you both enter a trance, you’re hoarse and your fingers hurt, and the baby’s about to sleep. It works almost every time.