When I tell people I have a guitar, very often they say things like, “Are you in a band?” or “Will you play a song for me?” or “That’s nice, let’s watch TV.” And I have finally figured out why that last reaction is my favorite.
I love guitar, and I love music. I don’t love the fact that I am essentially unskilled, but I love that I can learn new songs by finding lessons on the internet and sing them to my cat and inadvertently to neighbors who are, I assume, pretty pissed off at this point. But I get major performance jitters even when there’s only one other person in the
roomhouse. I have no intention of ever really performing. So, why am I bothering to learn and practice and even occasionally come up with new ways to sing covers?
Sure, there’s reward in all of these things—learning, mastery (for some definition of the word), entertainment, growth, creation and love. That’s the trite bullshit I’ve been telling myself from day one. But I realized today that I’m really doing this for one reason: potential hostage situations.
I’m doing this: learning new songs, and practicing semi-regularly because—and this could totally happen—I might someday be in a situation where I have to be able to play between one and five songs competently if somebody hands me a guitar and holds a gun to my (or somebody else’s) head. Alternately, I could find myself in a Goonies-related situation where every chord I play correctly helps get me and my friends across a booby-trapped floor. Or I could be surrounded by a horde of hippie zombies and have to fool them into thinking I’m one of them by lurching about and gently playing Bob Dylan.
This is why I do it. Music saves lives.