A while ago I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of some solid wisdom from one of my children. I had been struggling with some guitar phrases used by the great E Clapton and I expressed some frustration to my son that I couldn't play these particular licks in the way I wanted, and he looked me in the eye for a second, and with a slight grin said -'Let me get this right, you started to play guitar at age 59 and you're upset that you can't play like Eric Clapton?'
I don't often try to share what I'm learning, but every so often I'll record a certain piece to be a sort of marker of my little journey, and how good it sounds will be determined by a filter I have in my brain that judges how much time and effort the piece is worth, given how much there is still to learn.
The music piece behind the slide show above is a case in point. I know I could make it sound so much better if I spent another week just polishing it further, but at some point I just 'called it', because the benefit does not justify the time.
This piece was my first played with a slide and I found intonation very challenging, ending quick trips up and down the neck at the right pitch, and trying to give them pleasant vibrato; all of this took a lot of repetition and refinement. Plenty still to do. The solo is played over a backing track by Brian Sherrill which I re-mixed a bit and sped up 10%.
It is played in standard tuning on a regular guitar and was an attempt to capture something of the feeling that George Harrison expressed very sweetly in his later years. I mention that because trying to do these things is so beautiful in the way that it lets me inside the music, and falling short of the target is OK in that context.
So learning to play has really been an enormous lesson in learning to listen.