The Magic Number…

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.

A pile of old concert ticket stubs

Music Had The Power To Transport Me

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.
Previous Valentine's Feast For Two!
Next Spring Forward, Don't Look Back!

About author

You might also like


  1. Thom Slade
    February 20, 16:20 Reply
    I thing its awesome that you use your passion to help others!
  2. Bobby de Ortega
    February 22, 18:25 Reply
    Lolly, Great piece. It's really inspiring to read how you really went after it and still continue to do great things. BTW, how would you describe a "good, easy to play electric guitar?"
  3. craigbic
    February 23, 12:29 Reply
    What a terrifically inspiring article! Kudos for giving back and helping others! It is only through helping others to soar to new heights that we truly learn to fly! I'm at that stage of my life where I'm just learning to move on from all the negativity and chaos of my youth and early adulthood and have found that helping others is a great source of comfort, pride, and accomplishment.
  4. Lolly
    February 23, 14:47 Reply
    Bobby, Hi thanks for the comment! Well I would always go for a second hand guitar, if it's at least 5 years old the wood will have settled. Epiphones and Squires are usually good if you can't afford Gibsons or Fenders, but if you ask in the shop for something with a low action, and quite a thin neck you should be on to a good thing. Fit a set of 8 or 9 gauge Earnie Ball strings too, until your fingers toughen up.... and get playing!! Lolly
  5. Bobby de Ortega
    February 24, 17:32 Reply
    Lolly, Thanks for all of the great tips. You've most-likely saved me a couple years worth of trial and error! Any chance you'd be willing to sign my guitar? ;B -Bobby
  6. Chris
    February 25, 12:36 Reply
    I love what you said about not listening to a song you want to cover too much, and instead doing your own version. It really reminds me of what I'm doing in my own life. I'm doing design work right now and I take a look at certain fonts to study their form, but when it comes time to draw them I put the reference away and draw it from my memory/mind to put my own style into it. I can see why it's such a helpful thing to do in music as well!
  7. Jason Clark
    June 06, 06:10 Reply
    That's so heartening to hear that how music changed your life and how now you are changing the lives of so many people out there through the power of music. I can relate somewhat to you. If it was David Bowies’ Hunky Dory for you, then it was And I love her by Beatles which rocked my world... forever. Though, I still haven't lived the dream so to speak but my life became far sweeter with the introduction of music. Not a day goes by now without me strumming my favorite song(s) on my guitar. :)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.