Dare to Suck

Ever since I was a wee lass...I have felt different than everyone else. Oh, I know we are all different...but I really have felt different. Odd. Like a square peg in a round hole, sort of odd.

Being a country girl from a farm, then bused into town to go to Parochial school with the "townies" didn't help my feelings of uniformity with others either. Neither did getting put back into public school and being a "newbie" with the kids of my own community when I was already 12 and knew none of my local neighbors because I had been going to another school since the bus came at age 5.

Not an ugly duckling, but not beautiful either, I tried to fit in.
To no avail. I have always, and will always be different and an odd bird

In my teenage years, I will admit that drugs, sex and alcohol all helped with the acceptance thing. You could relate and experience together. But still...sometimes no one "got me" or my way of thinking.
Oh sure, there were a few busom friends who were kindred (thank the Gods for that) and I learned that I could make my way with being different.

So I started playing guitar. My mother (who also played) said I could learn on her guitar if I wanted to play. An old Gibson with strings so far away from the neck they had their own zip code. She was right handed. I am left handed. She tuned the guitar, handed me an old Mel Bay guitar book and said, "Call me if you have a problem" and went off to hang sheets on the line in the summer breeze.

I opened up the old case, carefully and gingerly lifted out the old guitar. I picked it up and held it just like the book, even though I was left handed, I held it right handed. It felt right. After all, the nuns had already taught me how to be ambidextrous by denying my left hand for so long. I learned where to place my fingers. It HURT. It was awkward. But something pushed me on. The need to have something of my OWN. Something that could be all ME.

I played and sang in my room for months and months, not coming out or bringing it out.
Too shy.
Too SCARED to be noticed...yet desiring it all the same.

One day, I braved the world and brought out the guitar and sat down in the kitchen and played a song for my mom and dad. My mother listened, sort of, and my father was all ears. I dared to suck.

Mom gave me a couple of pointers and back to my room I went.

Over the years, I've sang in my room, at parties and my teenage friends encouraged me (well, some did...others told me to shut the fuck up. But I know they were only jealous...plus I probably did suck around the edges.)

I played with family, friends, solo. I played when I was happy, sad, crying with tears running down my cheeks, I've played when I was bored or angry.
This is why there are Love ballads and Murder Songs.
They HELP you vent.

I've played with both of my husbands, and with friends at sessions, and friends at faire. I can't follow very well on my guitar, the looks of peoples hands on their guitar necks look like Greek to me...it must be a musical dyslexia or something. I tend to lead and have people come along with me for a ride.
With my drum, tho, I feel I can go anywhere musically....from Celtic to Led Zepplin. I love it all.

The one thing I have learned though...is "Dare to Suck".
Yes, it sounds awful at first. Maybe playing with someone you aren't used to, doesn't feel quite as comfortable as ones who know you well....but do it anyway.

If you walk out on stage, believing you can do it, you WILL do it.
Even if you think you will fuck it up. Even if you think you are a sham. Just do it.

Why?

Because people want to be entertained.
I realized that you don't have to be the best player in the world, or the best singer...(look at Dylan or Mick Jagger, for instance). All you have to be is ENTERTAINING.

People also love a spectacle. So if you do fuck up...wash it off, laugh it off, incorporate it and keep on keeping on.

I have a theory about some of the worlds best guitarists. Some of them aren't what you'd call handsome men. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa...I'm sure I could continue to name guys who play phenomenal but who aren't stunning models on magazine covers.

They too, I believe, sat in their room...as teens...not getting the girls....not fitting in...not being understood.

But they had a need to BE.
A need to express.
And because they dared to suck...they turned out to be HOT.

They let people see their inner person.

And it WAS beautiful.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Merlyn,

I couldn't agree more. If we all played it safe and never tried something new, stretched our limits or "dared to suck," where would we be? We would be all be the same and, therefore, would be nowhere. Plus, who knows how much beauty we would miss in the world around us, in ourselves.