“Living as a Mod in the 21st century” is the subtitle of this blog. It’s a statement I try to hold myself to. In all honesty, I’ve made a sustained effort of exploring every aspect of the culture since my teenage years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
There is one thing I have never attempted and always regretted not doing when I was younger. I’ve long had this burning desire and pushed it aside for all these years. There’s one thing that needs to be added to my Mod resume.
I thought that before I was going to turn 41, I was going to learn to play a musical instrument!
Most of my friends are talented musicians and I admire them for it. They speak a language that is foreign to me and I’ve always yearned to be part of the inner circle. My good friend Daniel, guitarist for the Chelsea Beat, is one of these well-rounded musicians that are passionate about creating music.
I guess he sensed that I wanted to take the plunge and join the ranks. All I needed was a slight push. Daniel was there to provide it and I thank him for it. But I suspect that he had a hidden agenda for wanting me to pick up an instrument. I believe he has an ulterior motive. I think he wants to start a Soul band. “Built it and they will come”, my new teacher often says.
It all started with a simple email. In it, he told me that he had something that he wanted to talk to me about. Mysterious… He also asked that for the next few weeks, I pick out some of my favorite tunes and that I pay careful attention to the bass line. Without asking why, I followed his instructions.
This is one of the songs I picked out. I always thought that the bass line in Start! from The Jam is quite catchy.
My friend Olivier, a good bass player himself, made me realize that it’s basically the same bass line as Taxman from The Beatles. Well look at that! Maybe I should have a second look at that little British band they call The Beatles.
A couple of weeks later, Daniel invited me over to his place. I had done my homework not knowing what to expect. After exchanging a few pleasantries and catching up, we moved to his basement. That’s when he handed me his beautiful German made Hoftner club bass guitar. “I’m going to teach you how to play”, is all he said. Daniel is sometimes a man of a few words.
So for the next couple of months, we’ve been meeting once a week in his man cave to jam. Luckily, I have an incredibly patient mentor who’s willing to tough it out until I get to play something that resembles a tune.
I’m at the point where my brain is faster than my fingers. My digits won’t catch up just yet. I often complain that my fingers are “out of breath”. Apparently, that is normal in the beginning. The most encouraging words I’ve heard yet from my master are: “Patrick, you need 3 things to become a good musician. One, a little theory. Two, technique and three, feeling. The good thing is you already have one of the three and that’s feeling. It’s the only part that you can’t really teach someone and it seems to come naturally to you. Playing Soul is 10% technique and 90% feeling.” Wow! He actually believes I can do this! Let’s do it!
So here is my pledge to you, Parka Avenue readers. In exactly a year from now, I will record a little video that I’ll post on this blog showing my progress or the lack thereof. This is the type of incentive I need to push myself.
In the meantime, to give you a small idea of what a beginner’s lesson is like, I’ll let my teacher be the star. With today’s technology, all you need to immortalize a basic bass lesson is an iPhone and an email account. After each visit, I’ll use Daniel’s phone to film my homework for the week and send it by email.