Tag Archives: guitar

Meeting the Moment 2021 #44

I bought a mid-size rosewood Martinez guitar, an amp, a capo, a strap and a lead to get it all connected up on Saturday at the local coast music store. A shop I hadn’t walked into for probably a decade, maybe more, last time was to buy some strings for my husband’s guitar. I haven’t shared a home with a guitar for four years and I haven’t picked up one to play for at least 10 or 12 years. In my teens you would find me playing guitar in my bedroom learning protest songs, folk songs and mostly songs to sing in church, singing along and  building set lists for youth group activities and Sunday Mass. When I left home my guitar playing went into hiding, my husband being better than me and gradually I stopped playing altogether.

I made my living during my university years singing at weddings and I wasn’t allowed to play the guitar, percussion was ok and a shaker, triangle and the odd castanet was permissible. It was so much easier to sing four or five songs in an hour or so at a service than toil away serving food or drinks for half the money! 

One school holidays our then pre-teen son and his friends were driving me and themselves to distraction so I got a set of books together at different heights, a set of rulers, my old Yamaha folk nylon string guitar from my teens out of hibernation and taught three lads a few chords and rhythms and then said please leave me alone and go and form a band … and they did. Two of the three are still very serious music makers, one of them makes his living from his music and the music of others he producers and records. He moved out of my home more than four decades ago. The third in the trio lost his life to mental health.

This new guitar I hope to share with my grandchildren and maybe teach them a few chords and songs and singalong together. One of the reasons I chose a smaller sized one was to make it easier for the one that is here already and the ones in the future that will be arriving next year. Sharing music has always had a home in all configurations of family I found and find myself in.

A couple of weeks ago I went to an open mic night in my local community hall. All the performers were men in and around my vintage, save for a couple of blokes, cousins, about thirty years younger – who were very good.  There was a lot of recreation of times gone by in the songs chosen and performed, there was even more musical masturbation between the males gathered.  I went home and turned to my keyboard, again hardly having a day out in years, although I got it serviced and working again when COVID hit so my grandson could experience making music with headphones on. He quite likes it but I had hardly touched the keys. I found myself, not unlike the men I had been listening too, going back to songs of my teens and twenties and discovered I was angry. I couldn’t quite believe it was 2021 and there were no women playing to an audience. I couldn’t get my head around that fact until I remembered the old adage – you can’t be if you can’t see it.  I resolved then and there to get a guitar. My old Yamaha had long gone!

I went on line first and then to the music store. I was in the shop for about 15 minutes, there were two other customers that came in during that time, a young man and a young woman, they both got served while I wandered around with absolutely no attention being given to me. Then when I realised I was the only customer I said to the two male staff: do either of you want to help me?  The younger long haired one of the two probably in his late 30s was thrilled to help out. He hadn’t noticed me come in or wander around … it is not a big shop. The invisibility of the older female consumer writ large. He was very helpful and asked me some relevant questions as I revealed I did know something about musical instruments. I don’t like shopping and I knew what I wanted so it wasn’t going to be long exchange. He settled into a friendly banter and then as the sales were being racked up in the till the other counter staff person joined in and we had a talk about sales and customer behaviour during COVID and it was all very pleasant. They did absolutely no push selling and it was me that asked to see the leads, the strap, where there capos were and if the guitar came with a soft case. There is no way they would get a customer service award, but that isn’t really the point of this tale.

I came home and discovered new features on a guitar. I wanted this one to have steel strings, and it did, and also have a pick up (in built microphone) and it did and also an inbuilt tuner, which was the single reason above all other reasons I was not encouraged to pick up the guitar once I married at 19. I wasn’t great at tuning guitars, but now this technological innovation, means I can turn the keys and the tuner goes bright green when the string is in tune. This is an improvement I can truly celebrate.

So I played two tunes, a protest song by Pat Humphries covered by Holly Near, Keep on Moving Forward and a Pete Seeger one Put my Name Down. I had a little weep and a big smile emerged. I have no one to say to me the guitar is out of tune, no one to say, give it to me I can do better than that, I have no one to listen to me playing – and that all feels rather good. A very satisfying way to meet the moment.

Gaslighting takes so many forms and there are many stories to tell, including my own, not the least the gaslighting from the grave that still creeps in when I least expect it. Muscle memory enabled my fingers to find the shapes on the frets, now it is up to the rest of my body to catch up and find its way out on the floor of an open mic session – it is coming soon. Getting a girl band together, as I don’t need to be alone for this and it will be more fun. We are dreaming up what might be in the set list. I am going to be advocating we learn Kate Miller-Heidke’s You’ve Underestimated me dude to honour all those underestimated.

You’ve underestimated me dude – Kate Miller-Heidke

I guess you think you’re pretty hot
I guess you think you’re quite the catch
Nothing gives you pause for thought
You don’t have the time for that
Depressingly familiar now
The patronizing turn of phrase
The leery looking up and down
The constant use of bad cliches
I get that uh-oh feeling crawling up my spine
It’s kicking and screaming when you drag me back in time

You’ve underestimated me, dude
And I love that about you
It means you’re gonna lose
Go on and condescend to me, dude
On your way into the bin
You’re gonna be so confused
You’ve underestimated me, dude

And the tide is turning
And the tide is turning, turning, turning on you

So kind of you to talk to me
So generous to give the floor
You’re looking down your nose at me
I’m very small, after all
You’re nodding so indulgently
You didn’t hear a thing I said
I guess I’ll bat my eyelashes
And you can pat me on the head
I get that uh-oh feeling crawling up my spine
I don’t want your number, I don’t want your time

You’ve underestimated me, dude
I kind of love that about you
Cause it means you’re gonna lose
Go on and condescend to me, dude
On your way into the bin
You’re gonna be so confused
You’ve underestimated me, dude

And the tide is turning
And the tide is turning, turning, turning on you

You’ve underestimated me, dude
And I’m almost sorry for you
Cause the tide is turning

Unpacking