Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.

The Weight

I’ve been flying around a lot the past few weeks and completely went off my routine. My bag has felt heavier, and I’ve generally been tired.

I couldn’t wait for today to end, but before it did, I would be renewing something that had until a few weeks ago had been routine: guitar lessons. It was mostly something to check off the list, but when L answered the door, smiling as usual, I felt something lift.

He asked me about my travels and what the autumn leaves had been like in Boston. I could take a hint, so I smiled, tuned my guitar, and started playing while he comped.

We then spent a few minutes catching up. What had I been up to musically in the past few weeks? I mentioned that I’d tried recording myself play a few songs. Which ones? I started playing and singing, and he joined me:

Flew into Nazereth,
I was feeling ’bout half past dead
Just need some place,
Where I can lay my head.
“Hey, Mister, can you tell me,
Where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned, shook my hand,
“No,” was all he said.

I took a load off, and we followed up The Band with a bar or two of Frank Ocean and Fleetwood Mac, before moving onto some Yusuf Islam (meow), during which L gave me some pointers on palm muting.

“That’s quite the repertoire,” L mentioned, and offered that he thought of me earlier that day when he taught one of his students to play “Cape Code Kwassa Kwassa”, which I had inadvertently taught him a few months ago.

We played for a bit when he asked me about “Blackbird”. I mentioned that he’d given me the tabs before, but I didn’t have it in my head yet. L quickly ran through the chord positions, and I mentioned that the tabs didn’t have the chords, which made it seem more complicated than it was.

L immediately printed out a new copy of the tabs and had me start going through them, marking down the chords. It was a great exercise, the progression was really simple (I, ii, iii, I, IV, V, vi), and it made me feel like Paloma or one of her classmates in Joshua Davis’s recent Wired article.

We ended the night with a run through Bon Iver, talked about Croatian wine, and then it was time…

To head back to Ms. Fanny,
You know she’s the only one
Who sent me here with her
Regards for everyone.


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