The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet


A Guitarist’s Christmas Story: The One That Got Away

Rog takes the week off, so JC has a Christmas Rant just for you: Don’t let the right one get away. Intuition.

Every guitarist I’ve ever met has a hard luck story something like this: they find a really interesting guitar at some out of the way place. And even though it’s not the guitar they thought they were looking for they have a great time messing with it. There’s just something about it. But for once in their life they decide to be ‘sensible’ and so they drive home to, you know, ‘think it over’. And by the time they get home they’ve talked themselves out of the whole thing. And of course, that’s the guitar they spend the next twenty five years wondering about.

I’ve done that. On multiple occasions. 😀 As they say, I’ve got the tracks of character tattooed all over my face. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror some mornings and I swear I can see at least a few of ‘*the ones that got away’.

Since I reached a certain level of maturity (perhaps as long ago as last week 😀 ) I’ve decided to try specifically to not to do that; to not walk away from something that ‘just feels right’ because it wasn’t ‘sensible’. Overall, I’m not sure it’s actually worked out any better than any other ‘strategy’ or ‘philosophy’, but it feels better to live this way.

It’s odd to think about the word ‘sensible’ in the same sentence as ‘musician’, but in many ways, a (cough) ‘entrepreneur’ such as myself has got to be a lot more sensible than thou who hast the ‘normal’ job. Aside from that single major left turn (or perhaps ‘leap off the cliff’ is a better metaphor) one initially makes in order to do whatever ‘this’ is, the remainder of life has many more constraints in order to not appear ‘flakey’ to bankers, neighbours, etc. My day consists of as many (if not more) ‘thou shalt nots’ as anyone I know.

I believe that intuition is one of those skills that needs to be practiced periodically in order to keep in good working order. We tend to think we make decisions using supposed techniques like ‘common sense’ and the ever-helpful ‘spreadsheet’. But of course we don’t; not really. In point of fact, we often use some part of our brain that feels for the correct answer and then use those ‘rational’ techniques to justify it to ourselves.

In many ways this is somewhat deceptive. We’re often not being honest about how we decide and thus we become poor choosers. Our muscle memory of intuition atrophies as we gain more ‘common sense’ and this tends to mean that when something truly extraordinary comes along we aren’t as open to choosing it. Hell, we may get to where we can’t even notice it. Or worst of all, we may actually get it and then spend a lot of time wondering “What the heck did I -do-? This is so not me!” Right. It’s not ‘you’. Your ‘going for it’ muscles are so atrophied you’ve become someone else you no longer recognise.

Now I’m not advocating looking in that same bathroom mirror I do in the morning and deciding that today would be a great day to finally ‘invest’ (cough) in that Porsche Targa you’ve always thought about. Get a grip, dude. 😀 What I am suggesting is that, as new-agey as this sounds, it may be time to actually practice recognising extraordinary things when they come along. And then grabbing them like a python when they do. By the way, I’m using that word ‘practice’ intentionally. I think that grabbing that one-in-a-million guitar you never knew you couldn’t live without takes real skill to master. I believe that you gotta practice, especially as one ages, because that innate faculty, like so much learning, comes more naturally when we’re young.

For example, so many great musicians are known for a particular instrument. I wonder how Steve Howe’s life would have gone had he not grabbed that particular ES-175 and decided on another guitar. What if Chris Squire hadn’t come across that particular Rickenbacker bass? Or Jaco and his ‘bass of doom’? It’s something to think about. How much of our lives comes down to recognising our ‘Excalibur’? The right guitar we weren’t looking for? The class we stumbled into by accident in college but then kept because it just felt ‘right’? The gal who wasn’t particularly our type? We’ve all had life-changers like that. But it seems like it gets harder to have those moments as we mature. So maybe part of ‘maturity’ inadvertently shuts down these impulses.

Anyhoo, for this holiday season, and for the new year as well, my one wish for you is not ‘happiness’ or ‘prosperity’ or ‘health’. You’ll get those wishes from a hundred other places, I’m sure. No, what I wish for you is simply this: next time you come across something that feels ‘right’, I hope you truly go for it. Don’t go home and ‘think it over’, just get it. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a total loser. But if it doesn’t? If it turns out to be a good thing? It’ll be the best good thing you’ve found in a looong while, I guarantee it. OK, I don’t actually guarantee it. But I’m pretty sure this shit works.

Let me know how it goes. But until then? Have a Very Happy Christmas.

Thanks for stopping by.

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*They look suspiciously like wrinkles to the untrained eye.

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