Lessons That Every Artist Needs to Know

On your way to becoming a guitar God(dess), remember…

Photo by Omar Roque on Unsplash

When I was in my late teens and early twenties it always seemed like there was some asshole at every party who felt the need to gift us with his guitar playing. Don’t get me wrong, I like music as much as the next guy. However, it always seemed like there were these guitar players at every party who were hellbent on ruining a good time.

The narrative was always the same. I would arrive at a party with my friends or girlfriend. The night would be going great. Good beer, good music, and good conversation. Then it would happen. The guitar player would break out his guitar and begin playing for some group of people. This would annoy me to no end. Why the hell would I want to listen to some knucklehead fumbling with the chords to Stairway to Heaven when there was a perfectly good Kenwood ready to play the studio version? I wanted to listen to Robert Plant, John Bonham, not the crappy version of Jimmy Page.

At any rate, I arrived at a party with some friends. The night progressed in its usual manner with drinking and conversation. As the night wore on, I found myself clicking with this pretty brunette.

Most of the partiers were in the dining room playing quarters so Amy and I migrated to the living room. We sat on the big sectional sofa. This was one of those L-shaped sectionals that comfortably held five or six people. We were positioned where the corners met. Amy lounged in the sofa’s corner. She was smiling and talking while Crosby, Stills, and Nash were singing Southern Cross in the background. The night was promising.

As Amy and I reveled in guy/girl banter, a dude appeared in front of us holding his guitar. I felt the grind of frustration as he sat down next to me on the massive empty sofa. I tried to ignore him as he began working the strings of his guitar and polluting the air with a crap version of You Better You Bet.

I motioned to Amy and we stood up and moved across the room. We made our way to the opposite side of the room where there were some beanbag chairs. She sank down into one of the chairs laughing. She waved her empty beer bottle at me and I took it and went to the kitchen to get more beer. “It’s going to be a great night,” I thought as I made my way out of the kitchen with our beer. To my shock, I discovered Guitar Guy sitting in my beanbag. Amy shot me a look of astonishment as he began mutilating a Van Halen song.

I put the beers down and helped Amy out of the beanbag. We left Guitar Guy and found our way to the patio. We found a large outdoor lounge chair to sit in. The summer night air was warm and crisp. We drank and laughed. At some point, she invited me with that elusive look that only a woman can project. I cupped her face with my hands and kissed her. When we broke from kissing, I noticed a shadow in my right eye. I turned my head to find Guitar Guy looming in the night and preparing to sit in the chair facing us.

“Oh my God,” said Amy in annoyance.

“What the fuck are you doing, man?” I asked.

Guitar Guy looked at us and shrugged like he didn’t know what we were talking about. I said, “Man, get the fuck out of here.”

There’s something about the musician or any artist who is attention starved that makes them pathetic. Like the poet who desperately wants you to read and or listen to his poetry, the musician is screaming for you to watch and listen to him play his instrument. They all share the artist curse that they believe they are skilled in their craft yet must be validated by an audience.

While I empathized with Guitar Guy on one level, I despised him on all other levels. There are rules in life. The unspoken ageless norms that guide humans along the great path. Guitar Guy had broken the rules.

Amy said, “I’m going to get us some beer.”

I nodded and stood up as she walked inside. I went over to Guitar Guy as he made a catastrophe of Dylan’s All Along the Watch Tower. Guitar guy looked up at me continuing to play and smiled at me as though I had finally surrendered to his fandom. I grabbed the neck of the guitar and yanked it saying, “Dude, you need to get the fuck away from me.”

He stood in anger because I had broken the extremely important rule of not fucking with a person’s guitar. There are many rules such as this like not fucking with a person’s ride or not fucking your friend’s sister or brother. Guitar Guy had broken the sacred rule of not interrupting a hook-up. We vied for control for an instant as the guitar dangled by its neck gripped in my right and his left hand. I yanked the neck of the guitar with my right hand and simultaneously punched him in the stomach with my left. He let go of the guitar and sat back in the chair readying to puke. Then I smashed his guitar on the concrete cracking body near the soundboard.

I left Guitar Guy with his sad broken guitar and desperation for fans. Some lessons in life are just hard lessons. As I entered the patio door, Amy appeared with our beers. I said locking the patio door, “Let’s go back and sit on the couch.”

Artists are the most arrogant, pathetic, and self-filled people who grace our presence.

Vincent V. Triola 2019