Sometimes, when the words don’t make their way from heart to brain to notebook to computer screen, I’ll take out my electric guitar. It’s a sleek blue and white Fender Stratocaster with loose pickups and cries for more attention. I’m a bad guitar player, but I know enough about power chords to be dangerous. To break the block, I’ll plug the guitar into the amplifier, turn the knobs to five or six, okay, always six, and let “it” rip. Usually my fingers miss a fret, and every once in a while, my pick gets jammed inside my right thumb. But always the strum releases tension, I think of the word, phrase or paragraph I need, and suddenly I feel almost like a real artist.
I imagine this is what some of my artistic heroes were and are, like. Putting your soul out there is scary and you stay fearful someone will call you a freak.
One of the pieces of music I know how to play is also known as the first “power chord”. A man named Link Wray wrote an rock and roll instrumental called “Rumble” in 1958. His manager, his record label boss, and some of his friends hated it. He turned all the knobs up much louder than usual, poked holes in his amplifier, and hit the chords on his guitar harder and faster than anyone else had thought, before. A few years later, an entire way of life happened because of his record. People learned how to play guitar from “Rumble” and the genre of “rock music” was forever changed.
What followed Link Wray’s moment of rebellious brilliance was the kind of music that inspires me, daily. I wrote my first book, The Ballad of Helene Troy, on the style he invented. Here are five other songs, along with Link Wray’s, that show some of my artistic process.
Rumble – Link Wray
Ticket to Ride – The Beatles
Psychotic Reaction – Count Five
Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
You Really Got Me – The Kinks
Wild Thing – The Troggs
I returned today from a five day jaunt to Washington D.C. with my wife and 3 daughters. We had a blast but I’m so behind in writing, reading, commenting, and linking to prompts, I’ll never catch up. I’m combining Trifecta Writing’s 333 word challenge of “freak” with my music freak friend, Jen at http://www.jenkehl.com ‘s Twisted Mixtape Tuesday. Her topic was 1950s and 1960s and the challenge was to deliver a mixtape or playlist to at least five songs. I gave a style and songs that I can kinda sorta play, poorly, on guitar, based on the emotionally reaction I have to the power chord. This may be a stretch and I may not “win” anything from either writing community but, well, it was inspired and honest and only 333 words and from the 1960s so take that, punks.
Now, go find a guitar and hit a G and an A and a C and feel the rebellion.
Looking for an edgy, music-filled page-turner to take to the pool, beach, or backyard deck for the summer? Get Helene, a rock and roll underdog story. It’s available digitally on amazon/kindle http://www.amazon.com/The-Ballad-Of-Helene-Troy/dp/1300800216 , smashwords, and Good reads and in paperback from Lulu.com or a signed copy from Pound Publishing Headquarters, in the Hill of Sugar, Georgia.