I started to think about maybe getting an inexpensive electric guitar that I could play more often. Something different than the Iceman. But I didn’t want to spend much money. Just something I could bang around on. The Iceman was now 40 years old and a valuable antique. It’s still in mint condition because I always took good care of it, but it’s worth thousands of dollars now. I thought that if I could find a cheap electric guitar that was a bit more present, I’d play it more. I started to do some research and decided to shop around locally in search of this cheap guitar.
It seemed that in the last few years, I was always talking to people I’d met about music and playing rock. To me, this was a signal that I needed to not only play again but maybe try to become an even better musician. Maybe learn how to play some leads and learn some new songs to reignite my interest in making music again. I felt that it was always a part of me and was lying dormant in my mind for many years while I worked at my job.
I think when I started writing this blog back in 2016, my brain was calling out to me to create again.
A guy who was a former musician who ran the company that washed the windows at a restaurant where I worked would always come in and chat about music with me. He was a retired school teacher and loved the same rock I listened to. He eventually ended up giving me a Fender G-tec amplifier for free!
I was surprised and very grateful but also saw this as a signal that my heart was calling out to me to rock again. This was a few years ago around 2018. The Fender was a cool little amp that you could program bass and drum sounds into. I could hit a button and it would play a bass and drum track and then I’d play along with it. It was really fun to jam along with but I was still playing just small bits of songs I had known for four decades.
I think maybe one of the most exciting parts about playing guitar for me in the late seventies was writing songs and learning new songs from other artists. There was a certain rush that occurred when I’d figure out the riff to songs by Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. I felt like I was getting better if I was walking in the footsteps of Jimmy Page or Joe Perry. I wanted to feel that way again.
The great thing about music is its purity. It will never hurt you and only bring you joy. It can give you a great high when you play and perform and doesn’t give you a hangover. Your music will never betray you or break your heart. It’ll comfort you when you’re sad, and energize you when you’re happy. It truly is the rhythm of life itself.
I decided to look into some of the local music stores in center city. This was about two years ago. I began with visiting my friend Eric down at Society Hill Loan which is a pawn shop down at 6th and South Street.
The place is a cluttered mess with boxes and amps everywhere. There are several guitars hanging from racks around the store and some of the better ones are in cases behind the counters. The place has been there for years and actually does brisk business on eBay. I spoke with Eric about what I was thinking about and how now that I’m older I was thinking about an old used Fender telecaster. Springsteen plays one and so does Keith Richards. It’s a versatile instrument and good for rhythm. I saw a few in the store but they were copies made by Jay Turser. He makes decent low-priced guitars, but I wasn’t feeling it. I also don’t know if I feel good enough to own or invest in an original guitar. I had to focus on my objective. A cheap electric guitar I could knock around on and play on a daily basis.
Eric said to me that I should shop around and when I put on a specific guitar I’ll just know that it’s the one. From one musician to another I think that was good advice. He told me to stop back in occasionally because they were always getting new stuff in. There was always something about that pawn shop that made me sad. In the front windows, they had some old TVs and radios but mostly musical instruments. Just seeing those horns and guitars made me sad. Instead of seeing several guitars at rock-bottom prices I only saw the failed dreams of other musicians. I always imagined the guy who owned the guitar and for whatever reason had to pawn his instrument. The thing that he may have built his hopes and dreams on. The road of rock ‘n roll is littered with the detritus of millions of failed musicians, but seeing these artifacts held out for everyone to see knowing where they came from just made me sad. I was a failed musician/rockstar but I wasn’t broken up about it. I’ve had some lows in my life like we all have, but I never got so low that I ever wanted to part with my Ibanez Iceman. It had brought me so much joy and I had worked hard to acquire it, and I loved it so for what it did, I could never part with it.
So I went about my business of working and writing and slowly thought about my next guitar. There was no rush. Weeks went by and sometimes on my walks on my days off I would stop in at the pawn shop and chat with Eric. He’s a cool dude who still plays in a band, but each time I went in there I didn’t see anything I liked. Probably because deep down I had no idea what I wanted or if I even needed another guitar.
My daughter said to me I never do anything for myself. I tell her it’s because I don’t want anything. I’ve had tons of material things in my life in the past and none of them made me happy. It seemed the more stuff I had the more responsibility and stress it brought with it. I think many people fill their lives with stuff in an attempt to fill a certain emptiness inside their hearts. Sadly material things like cars, jewelry, vacations, homes, and designer apparel all seem silly to me. I suppose it makes them feel affluent, successful, or more attractive to other people. But it’s just stuff. All of the greatest things and life can’t be bought. If you can purchase it… it must not have any real value because anybody with money can get it. Some of the greatest things in life can’t even be seen. They must be felt or experienced.
I’m so in tune with myself now that if I want something out of the ordinary I always ask myself why I need it and if I really need it. Am I depressed? Am I missing something? What’s wrong? Do I need to fill an emptiness inside myself? Obviously, that’s not the case with me because I rarely buy myself anything at all now, but that’s just how my brain works after living with the darkness of depression and the rollercoaster of anxiety my whole life.
But I’m fine now, and I think another guitar would be neat to have and play. Maybe give me a fresh start to kickstart my heart about music again. Not just playing music, but writing some new songs from my older more experienced self.
One of the guys at the store where I work is a musician and he’s the only person I’ve ever met that knows more about rock music than I do. That’s an incredible feat to me and I admire him for his musical ability and mental prowess on the subject. I think chatting with him at work and listening to all of the playlists he’s created for the store on Spotify has inspired me to return to my first love.
Last year I started my own Spotify account and I love making playlists, listening to all of my favorites, and discovering new music. It’s reignited my love for the art form.
I’m getting a guitar!
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