When I was a young man, the thing to do was cover your walls with posters of whatever you loved.
Some dudes covered theirs with posters of dirt bikes racing, flying through the air, and doing the craziest stunts.
Some dudes showered their walls with images of muscle cars and race cars.
What did I put on my walls?
Like tons of adolescents at the time, I plastered the two loves of my life on the four walls of my domicile:
Girls and Music.
Damn, at one point, I found a record store that gave away these 12×12 little posters of album covers and I put them ALL over my walls.. covering every single inch with my own personalized album cover wallpaper matching music with the equivalent “Hot Chicks” of the day.
Two of my favorite posters at the time were of Christy Brinkley (this one)…
And REO Speedwagon (this one)
REO Speedwagon has a special place in my heart as it was my very first concert ever. My cousin was cool enough to take me and I soaked up EVERY. SINGLE. MOMENT. of that concert as my stood there slack jawed and drooling… something I would repeat after seeing the first girl ever naked and in person.
They played all of their biggest hits up to that moment (I didn’t write the songs down but got this from a quick Google search…1 Good Trouble, 2 Don’t Let Him Go, 3 Keep Pushin’, 4 Let’s Be-Bop, 5 Tough Guys, 6 The Key, 7 Take It On The Run, 8 Time For Me To Fly, 9 Keep On Lovin’ You, 10 Keep The Fire Burnin’, 11 Flying Turkey Trot, 12 Guitar Solo, 13 Stillness Of The Night, 14 Back On the Road Again, 15 Ridin’ The Storm Out, 16 Roll With The Changes, 17 Shakin’ It Loose, 8 Johnny B. Goode.)
These dudes were HUGE at the time after breaking through with their 1981 hit album Hi Infidelity which has sold over 10 million copies and counting….
I Freakin LOVED this band and still do.
So…. here is a “How to play” one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands….
This is NOT my info, but taken from the most awesome and highly connected VHND (Van Halen News Desk). These are the same people who, back in the day, put out the great Van Halen Inside Magazine… so these peeps know their shit… enjoy the info and footage:
“35 years ago today, on Nov 24th, 1979, Van Halen concert footage was shown on television for the very first time!
No, were not talking about the Fair Warning tour film from Oakland, (and there’s a lot of mystery behind that) —we’re talking about our OTHER favorite old Van Halen footage, which is arguably just as cool, but doesn’t seem to get talked about as much…
Back in 1979, before MTV, home video or the Internet, the band relied almost exclusively on the radio airplay for exposure. “Dance the Night Away,” with it’s catchy riff and sing-along chorus, charted well in the spring and summer, eventually climbing to US # 15. “Beautiful Girls” stalled at US #84. Hoping to further the bands recognition, Warner Brothers filmed three songs during Van Halen’s performance at the Rochester Community War Memorial in Rochester, NY on May 18th.
For a considerable investment of $61,500, the band had incredible live footage of three new songs from Van Halen II—“Dance the Night Away,” “You’re No Good,” and “Bottoms Up!” Initially, “Beautiful Girls” was supposed to be part of the package, but was never filmed for whatever reason.
On November 24th, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert broadcast the live clips of “Dance the Night Away,” “You’re No Good.” for a national audience. “Bottoms Up!” was left out, but aired on some other program (overseas) at a later date, so video collectors have had these gems in circulation ever since, but in less than perfect quality.
All three videos can be watched below. Hopefully someday soon, the band will finally give this historic video the official release it deserves. It’s simply maddening that they have yet to release any of the priceless footage from their unrivaled early years.
I forgot who said it and what class I was in when it was said…
but it was 1980-something and CLASSIC!!!
It all started with Slacker Dude not doing anything and the teacher getting
upset about it…
Finally, and I kid you not, the teacher said the classic line:
“What do you want to do with your life?!?!?!”
and of course the Slacker Dudey stood up and said… yes, he did..
“I wanna ROCK!!”…
After the look of shock wore off of the teacher’s face, he promptly kick the
Dude to the Principal’s office…
To this day, I have less derriere because I laughed it off so hard that day….
Here’s an ode to you Slacker Boy!!
So…. I need to learn new songs for the band – OK… busted, actually old songs that we are gonna play that I never learned before. Now that we have that clarified, old or new, I have a plan of attack every time I learn a new song and/or solo –
I LOOK FOR PATTERNS
We live our lives through patterns really. How do you know that a door knob needs to be turned in order to open the door? You have encountered it before and you know the pattern. Ever come to a door that had some new fangled bullshit type of way to open it and you had no freakin idea what to do? What did you do? Sat there like a dork lookin at that damn door like you have never seen one before, fumbled around trying to figure out how to get the damn think open, and hoping nobody is watching you make a fool of yourself. Hell, I have even been in the bathroom with some fancy ass toilet and having absolutely no idea how to flush that bitch (don’t act like you haven’t been there)!!
So, we live through patterns. Get it?
Now that we have that established, what I do is look for patterns in the music. What is reoccuring? What riffs am I familiar with? What style/techniques/etc does this player mainly use? Even to the point of what is the song structure? Is it a common – verse, per-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, Bridge, chorus…. or some other pattern? And on and on and on…. until I have broken it down into the smallest common parts.
Not getting it? Ok, check this out….
Take “Fade To Black” by Metallica…
Here is the part right before the last guitar solo:
Ok… could be a lot to remember… UNLESS… we look for patterns. Do you see any reoccuring shit?
How about this part?
Seems that this part is consistent.
Now… all we have to do is practice this part over and over until it is burned in our brain and finger’s muscle memory.
Now we need to find other patterns….. Let’s see…. OH.. OH… OH… Here is one!!!
Because I am used to seeing patterns I can see that there are moveable bass (low) notes – which you can see in measures 152,154,156,158 and then the pattern repeats:
So all you have to do is practice the first riff until you can do it in your sleep and then put these two together by adding the bass notes between these riffs (yeah I know … the bastard messed up the pattern a bit in measure 159 by putting that 7th fret in there – so beware of some of these quirks – just like a door that swings in instead of out). Red = moving bass note and Blue = Repeating pattern….
Like I said, this works for riffs, solos, song structure…. everything!! Look for patterns and make your life easier.
Every once in awhile I will get emails with people telling me that learning how to solo is just way too difficult and they want to quit.
Most of the time the challenge these people are facing isn’t that learning how to solo is a bitch(some solos definitely are) it’s that they are overwhelmed with inforamation overload and don’t know where to begin.
Now I got that solved with my Ebook: Rapid Playing Method for Guitar: Solo that you can get, but I also want to give all of you who haven’t gotten the book some early wins.
Now… let’s get you some early victories. I didn’t have time to make proper tabulature so hopefully this makes sense. Now that you know where the pattern happens (btw those circled dots are the root notes so that means if you are in the key of G then the pattern will start on the 3rd fret 6th string, if you are in A the pattern starts on 5th fret 6th string). Start off with the blues because it is the easiest and, in this case, the key of A minor. With these 4 notes you can play very cool solos. Now, just play them one after another. Ok, now slide from the “G” to the root note “A”. Slides are your friend for sure. Once you get the feel of that, try to bend a note (you should bend it up to the sound of two frets but right now just get used to bending and watch those fingers… this shit can hurt!!). It is time to put it together. The numbers are the order you play it…. slide (1-2), single note (3), pluck and bend next note (4), single note (5), single note (6).
NOW….go to Youtube and type in blues backing track in A minor and try to play these 4 notes along with it to get the feel of how they sound.
Hope this helps!!
I just read the Arnold Schwarzenegger biography “Total Recall”. Love him or hate him, there is no doubt that that fucker is a winner!! Top of the class world bodybuilder, then went into acting with that huge last name nobody could spell and didn’t even fit on the marquee – AND at a time when the top actors were little dudes like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, and Woody Allen. Not to mention the fact that his English SUCKED!!!
But what happened?
Dude crushed it!!!!
One of the top grossing actors of all time. Ok, not enough for you? A Republican married into what many considered the “American Royal Family” the Kennedy’s…. oh, did I tell you that they are Staunch Democrats?!?!? Finally the dude went into politics and the mutha freakin dude won the Governorship of California….
Anyway…. enough man-love.
The point of this post is the mentality and method that allowed that former scrawny dude from Australia to conquer so many different arenas can be summed up in one philosophy…..
You see… Arnold approached each of these vastly different careers the same way he approached body building to become the champion. The more reps you do the better you get…. so keep doing reps, reps, reps…
For us, that translates into ….
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE….
I am currently learning…. or trying to… learn how to sing (especially those dog calling high notes that only a eunuch or Steve Perry can hit).
And trust me… it is a struggle.
BUT… here is the deal.
Just like what you may be going through learning how to solo…. I am fine with the struggle because I know, and keep repeating to myself, it is all about the REPS, REPS, REPS…
Know the fundamentals and then just do it over and over and over again.
So now, what I am doing is singing my ASS off in the car (so the neighbors don’t call animal rescue thinking we are torturing the cat!!!!).
Because I took the time to learn the fundamentals I know it is just a matter of time and I too will be breaking hears and glass with my vocals.
Now it’s your turn….
Just do like Arnold and keep repeating…
And you will be kicking ASS in ANY arena!!
Bark at the Moon
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
It was both fab and horrible at the same time….
LOTS and lots of traffic….
4:30 comes and goes
5:30 comes and goes…
6:00 comes and goes….
6:30 comes and goes….
And I am STILL in traffic….!!!!
FINALLY I get to the theater….
I haul TAIL!!
Passing people and driving like a crazy man!!
But I can’t get off the freakin expressway!!!!!
I can’t pass him!!!
You D ICK!!!!!
Please… who have I pissed off here….
It DOESN”T turn OFF!!!!!!
I am freakin out!!!!
this shit was CHAOS!!!
I have to redo the whole concept…..
Are you still with me…?
forgot to tell you…
Now I am not only playing for the MMA crowd but I have to play the freakin
national anthem in front of all of these heroes!!!!
“Ladies and gentlemen…..
Please stand and rise as we are honored to have Michael Lee play our
country’s national anthem for you….”
It shocked the pee out of me!!!
“Through the perilous fight….”
Hurry brain … do SOMETHING!!!
And it is LITERALLY shaking!!!!
Ok… getting close to the end….
Concentrate bro… concentrate….
Time to stop playing… build suspense….
At this point I am all in….
Normally I would play with the crowd… look up and what have you….
Not this time!!
Good call, Bro…. GOOD CALL!!!!
When I was a young wanna be six-string gunslinger I thought about nothing except for music, sports, and chasing tail (i.e. women).
Man, I had time to play and play I did… sometimes for 8 hours or more every day. I loved every minute of it and because of all of the hours I put into playing guitar I got proficient pretty quickly.
Since I didn’t fulfill my goal of becoming a Rock Star, as the years went on and I had to “grow up” (i.e. do more shit that I didn’t want to do like get a job, pay bills, do my own dishes!!!) I didn’t have the time to do what I wanted to do – ROCK OUT!!
So, while I was toiling away working for “The Man” I would do what I did when I was at school listening to a teacher drone on about…. well…. whatever…While the teacher did their best Charlie Brown’s parents imitation (wah…wonk..wah wah… wha wonk…) I would daydream about playing guitar (in between bouts of daydreaming about that hot blonde to my right…).
And you know what…..
IT HELPED MY PLAYING!!!
I found when I got home some of those freakin passages that were soooo difficult to play that I would get frustrated as Hell and want to smash my guitar suddenly were easier to play. Don’t get me wrong, they were still difficult as shit to pull off, but easier than before.
And I used to do this all the time and it always helped in some way. In fact, there were times I PURPOSELY put the guitar down to “think” about a section and sure enough when I came back the passage all of sudden came alive!
So, now I have a new band I am playing with and with a new band inevitably comes new songs to learn. I am still not a Rock Star so I still have to play the grown-up game complete with a day job.
BUT… I still need to learn these songs… in between all of my other responsibilities.
WHAT TO DO?
That is right my friends… VISUALIZE BABY!!!
Just like I did when I was in school.
I read somewhere that Michael Jordan used to do the exact same thing when asked how he calmly drops the game winning shots. Jordan claimed that he saw (visualized) making that shot a million times in head before he even stepped onto the court.
Arnold Schwarzenegger did the same thing in his life when asked how he managed to win all of those body building contests, he said he had already won in his mind a million times.
IT WORKS PEOPLE!!
NOW it is even easier to do this because we have the ability to carry our whole catalogue of music in something the size of a match box.
Just put the music on and “see” yourself playing the song. “See” your fingers moving. “See” the guitar neck. Even feel the feeling of playing the guitar.
You will be amazed at the results.
So, as I sit here at the computer slaving away waiting for the “Flintstone whistle” to blow and release me from the cubicle coffin excuse me for a minute while I close my eyes, visualize myself going onto that stage with 1,000’s of roaring fans, and see myself playing the crap out of that guitar solo that has so eluded me up to now…..
Ah…. I NAILED IT….. AND so will YOU!!!