The Magic Number…
Well hello. I’m here to talk about the longest, and maybe most exciting, relationship I’ve ever had in my life…
…with music. “…He was my North , my South , my East , my West…” From the day I got my first Walkman, and my friend gave me a cassette (yes a cassette, google it) of David Bowies’ Hunky Dory, on one side, and Ziggy Stardust on the other, music has been my constant companion. I’ve cried for days with Carol King at my first break up, and had my first kiss to Come on Eileen at the school dance.
It was everything to me; it was the reason I got up in the morning. Music had the power to transport me from my tiny room at my parent’s house—in the back of beyond—to knee-trembling excitement in Memphis Fats in New Orleans, Kicking out the Jams in Detroit, and to us of a certain age, a slightly different Eye of the Tiger.
So I joined a band, actually, many bands over the years. Toured with some big names. Shared dressing rooms with my heroes. Got a major record deal. Lost a major record deal. Was ‘big in Japan’ for a while, and as you would say ‘lived the dream.’
But to be truly honest, it’s now that I really feel the happiest. Since ‘moving on’ from those crazy hedonistic days, I now work with young adults with behavioral and mental health problems; still in a practice room, but at an arts centre. We help people in crisis drop their worries and fears for a while, and simply step into a room to play some music. It’s really humbling watching some of these kids—whose day to day struggles far outweigh anything I’ve ever had to deal with—just turn up to the centre. Some come with a broken guitar, or a bag full of hand-written lyrics on the back of cigarette packets, desperately trying to make some sense out of their lives. It’s totally awe-inspiring, yet somehow we all communicate on so many different levels, in a language called music.
Should we get to the title? What is this magic number?
Well it’s THREE, of course! Anyone ever deciding on learning an instrument should always understand that you only ever need three chords, three notes and your away. Some of the greatest songs in the world just start life as 3 chords.. Cee lo Green, Forget You? (C F D7) Ring of Fire? (G C D), All Along the Watchtower?(Am G F) To name but a few.
What I always try to tell my students, when attempting to cover a song, don’t listen to it too much. Instead, do your own version…Smile…Have Fun! Because in this short life, in the words of Mick Jagger, ‘You Cant Always Get What You Want, But If YOU TRY Sometime, You get What You Need…….’ (C F D)
- Find friends who want to play, or join a choir. Music is for sharing.
- If you’re serious about wanting to play Stairway to Heaven? Buy a good, easy to play electric guitar… That cheap acoustic, will just hold you back.
- Guitar too complicated? Get a bass. No chords to learn, only notes.
- Complete beginner? Use Smart Instruments in Garageband, you cannot be out of key.