Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Guitar Man

Lorenzo Pagans and Auguste de Gas,
the Artist's Father. c.1871-72 by Edgar Degas
When my husband turned 40 I was all set to put up with-the dreaded "mid-life crisis".  I thought he might want to buy a car with a souped-up engine, or return to his motorcycle riding early days or worse yet, decide he had more wild oats that needed sowing!

But no, at the age of 40 my dear husband decided it was time to learn to play guitar!  And he did so, with only the help of a DVD and the occasional lesson with a fellow player.  He is now some 10 years later, quite good at it, although still too shy to play in public.

But that's okay because I enjoy his private concerts, especially when we sing together.  He even taught himself to sing on key from a video!

The first song I'd like to feature is from the early '70s and has a calm and peaceful vibe. It's by the group Bread headed by lead singer and songwriter David GatesThe lyrics describe very well the attractiveness a guitar player has for me.

Guitar Man / Bread (1972)

I have had a fondness for John Denver ever since I first heard him singing Take Me Home Country Roads.  My favourite of his songs was Annie's Song, and it still has the power to make me teary.  He wrote this song about his wife, who later left him.  I don't think I could ever leave a man who wrote me a song like that!

Here he is singing about his old guitar. In his introduction to the song he tells us the history of it and his song explains why it is so important to him.  The guitar was cremated with him after he was killed in a plane crash in 1997.  His ashes were spread over the Colorado Rocky mountains.

This Old Guitar / John Denver (1974)

portrait of John Hiatt by Jim McGuire
My husband's excellent taste in music was my introduction to John Hiatt.  I came to really appreciate his raunchier sound, and especially his lyrical style. One of my favourite of his songs is The River Knows Your Name which I posted on my All Wet blog post last summer.

In this next song Perfectly Good Guitar I can't help but agree with him when he sings:

It breaks my heart to see those stars
smashing a perfectly good guitar
I dont know who they think they are
smashing a perfectly good guitar.

I never understood that practise of Rock stars smashing their guitars on stage. What a waste!

Perfectly Good Guitar / John Hiatt (1993)

Neil Young's album Prairie Wind is so special to me.  In it, he explores his youth living on the prairies of his Canadian home in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  He developed the album after a terrible interlude in his life where he almost died from a brain tumour.  This caused him to reflect on his past, how he came to be the person he was, and which direction he should take in his future.

This video comes from his performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  Jonathan Demme filmed his concert there in a movie called Heart of Gold. It is a very moving film and the best concert movie I have ever seen. In this song he is accompanied by Emmylou Harris.
UPDATE: 24/09/13 (The original video is no longer available, so I have replaced it with this one from a benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina).

This Old Guitar / Neil Young (2005)

*****UPDATE (Feb. 10, 2012)******

 I have realized that I should have included one of my favourite guitarists and singer/songwriters of all.  George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps takes his love of his guitar to almost spiritual levels. When I stumbled upon this fanmade video I knew I had to add it to this post.  The video shows George Harrison as a young Beatle cavorting with his bandmates, and in his solo career after The Beatles' breakup. Throughout he is shown playing various types of guitars. His sense of humour and his pensive otherworldliness really come through for the camera.  It is a wonderful video!

I look at the world and I notice it's turning
While my guitar gently weeps
With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps.

I thought this might be the best I could do until...

I discovered Heirs of Durin's fabulous post about how various musicians are reproducing the song first heard from the Hobbit trailer.  She has found sheet music,  a piano version and of course a guitar version!  And being the talented graphic artist that she is, here what she came up with when trying to imagine Thorin Oakenshield playing it on guitar.

It certainly works for me!


JeannieGisborne said...

Hi Phylly, well as we've talked of music on YT and now on FB, you know that I love just about all the musicians you mentioed. I love JD's This Old Guitar, and NY"s too. That pic of Richard is brill as is the one of Thorin with the electric! Love it! Thanks for sharing this.

phylly3 said...

My tastes run to more softer rock than what you prefer, I think. So perhaps you might be a fan of some of the guitar smashers? Hmmm? :D (Just kidding!) I like The Who and wasn't that one of Pete Townsend's things?

RAFrenzy said...

Yep, Pete was the one who initiated us into that lovely tradition.

Great post. Love Thorin with the geetar. :D

LadyCassia said...

Hi Phylly, I love your post and the pic of the rocking Thorin! He has the perfect look for a rockstar. Is it a Fender Stratocaster he is showing, by the way? LOL!

As I have two guitarists in my family, I developed a soft spot for men playing guitar. I have a long list of my preferred in mind and I will tell you random: Tony Iommi, Jimmy Page, Ritchie Blackmore, Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton etc.

Congratulations to your husband! Guitar is a wonderful instrument, it offers great results after a few months of study and it's very helpful to socialise!

Anonymous said...

Your "aging" husband is a keeper! Guitars over motorcycles any day. (Unless we are talking Ricky Dee, but he is too young to be considered.) :) Neil Young will always be held close. I have an odd reaction to Emmylou. The voice is incredible. It is so pure, that I discern no passion in it. This is a reaction that I can't analyse. She is a very great singer. (Devotee of the scrungy Willie, too - he has the capacity to touch chords.)



phylly3 said...

Thanks Frenz -I was thrilled to find DarkJackal's work on her blogpost. It was just what I needed!

phylly3 said...

I have no idea about electric guitars. My husband plays acoustic. You'll have to ask DarkJackal who created the graphic art.
Those are all great guitarists you have listed. I should have probably included another of my faves singer/songwriter guitarists - George Harrison for "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

phylly3 said...

I know what you mean about Emmylou. I like her voice to but she is not an exciting singer to watch. one of my favourite NY albums was "Comes a Time" in which he had Nickolette Larsen with backup vocals. She has a very sweet voice and is a passionate singer.

phylly3 said...

Thanks very much for your kind comments. :) My son plays an electric guitar but he is very private about it. Neither of the men in my life enjoy the limelight.

bccmee said...

That's a lovely story about your husband. It's very romantic to sing together too. ♥

phylly3 said...

He is quite the romantic, more so than I am! Thanks for the comment :)

jeannie anderson said...

Yes, Cassia that is a Strat. Both my brothers own them :)

jeannie anderson said...

Phylly you're wrong about me. I LOVE the softer tunes as well. I was raised on Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver. I sang to Linda Ronstadt adn Emmyluo Harris. But I do love the rockeers, too :)

phylly3 said...

So, I stand corrected! We definitely need to sing together some day! I am a mostly soft rocker who sometimes ventures into the wilder stuff. Bruce Springsteen, The Kinks or The Ramones is about as wild as I get though.

Lady Cassia said...

Thanks Jeannie!
I receive weekly pics of guitars and requests of purchase.
I could confuse models and names sometimes! LOL!