Why Did You Take Up The Guitar?

I'll tell you why I took up the electric guitar: apparently, a lot of fascists hate them.

My high school friend and I were preparing to attend a concert one evening when we headed back to his house to pick up our tickets which he had purchased earlier. Upon arrival we found his dad hauling all this kid's possessions out into the front yard, tearing stuff up, and searching his bedroom for contraband.

Before we got there his dad had already destroyed part of an album collection (sniffing out all the 'Satanic' elements) as well as disposing of his amp -- I think he threw it in a pond. And, yeah, the concert tickets were shredded as it turns out. Luckily I had not paid for mine yet!

They proceeded to get into a screaming match so I thought it would be prudent to head back to my car and wait for the skirmish to blow over....ah, but it was just warming up.

The pièce de résistance occured when the father, let's call him Lt. Colonel Jesus Fury came marching out of the house wielding a Les Paul by the neck, and, swinging for the fences, smashed it on the corner of their house. Yeah, the neck snapped off. Yeah, the carved top was mangled, it was a mess. Admittedly, it was Norlin-era garbage, but still, I didn't know anything about that. M only thought was "Holy shit! That asshole really, really hates that guitar ... and ... I must have one!"

My own father was pretty much a furious authoritarian jerk minus all the Jesus stuff and my guitar did indeed drive him nuts for a couple of years before I moved out. But this skill set was transferable. Over the years, I had numerous opportunities to treat other uptight jerks to the dulcet tones of roaring feedback, screeching pedals of this, that, and other varieties, fizzy fuzz faces, and teeth-grinding ring modulations. What's that? Counting money by the pool this afternoon and could I keep it down for a while? Oh, as Ry Cooder says, you can't keep a good man down.

Of course, I love music but, unconsciously, it is quite possible that I actually love guitar and guitar music because of its antiauthoritarian potential -- I realize a lot of reactionary nuts play guitar too (Hi, Ted, you fucking ass hat) and the vast majority of gear buyers are really just bankers at heart -- but I suspect the majority of people who actually make music with the guitar love to rub uptight jerks the wrong way. And the guitar itself? For me, the guitar is not just a musical instrument but a totemic emblem that signifies my hatred of power.