How To Learn To Not Play The Guitar

Thank you for coming to this week’s Acoustic Hack Open Mic. Thanks to our hosts, thanks for listening. I would like to apologize for being here to perform for you.

Because there are few things as uniquely loathsome as the North American male guitarist. The sensitive singer-songwriter who is full-to-bursting with emotion and whose sole outlet is strumming away on his little guitar while letting fly a stream of cliche in his signature constipated whisper. The wild-eyed maniac, electric guitar aloft…or more often, cradled in his lap as he leans into a stupid Line 6 amplifier that he’s set up to sound like the interior landscape of a fucking headache, cranked just a notch past civilized as he wails away with abandon at the Guitar Center on a Saturday afternoon. That obnoxious bastard who drags their six-string shitbox to every party you have the misfortune of attending. Oh yes, please, let’s hear some goddamned Dave Matthews. Let’s hear your take on the Nirvana catalog. Let’s please hear you interpret the Beatles, yes–the words like a Satanic puss pushing through your larynx and onto unsuspecting party-goers to fester and burn and eat away at the soul of anyone within earshot.

Guitarists are whores–starved for attention limp-dicks with somehow both a mountain of self-regard and abyss-like voids of self-esteem

And I wish I could quit. I wish I could, but it’s a drug. I mean, what better habit for a starved-for-attention limp dick with a mountain of self-regard and an abyss-like void of self esteem than to hit a noisy box of wood and shout so that everyone is forced to pay him a moment’s notice?

I mean, can you imagine if every shitty past time that we picked up when we were 13 just stuck around like playing guitar does? Think of the dumb bullshit you engaged in as a young teen. Now imagine you’re thirty and still convinced that it is totally acceptable for you to keep doing that in public, even–on occasion–demanding to be paid for it.

It’s too late for me. When I was a college student, I had the time to voraciously tear into music. To track down albums I wanted to hear, to go see bands play live–some of whom I’d never even heard before, just to be surprised. I am no longer surrounded by peers at those crappy basement shows. I am the weird older guy in the crowd who doesn’t talk to anybody and leaves early because he’s gotta be at work the next morning. I don’t consume music at anywhere near the same pace anymore. The last three albums I bought were reissues of records I bought in high school.

I used to read and read and read. I’d tear through books. The subject hardly mattered if it was of even passing interest to me. But my metabolism is for shit now and within ten minutes of settling down for some quiet reading time, I am fast asleep. I’m a writer who hasn’t finished reading a book–one single fucking book–in well over a year.

I am a fraud on all fronts. I don’t have talents. I have hobbies that have calcified into habits. I can’t really tell if I even derive pleasure from doing them. Doing something you used to love might just be less fulfilling than doing something you hate. Because at least the hate feels more like passion than the ghost of an emotion I get when I play the same bullshit I’ve been playing for years.

So yeah. I’m ashamed to be a guitarist. I’m sorry. Here’s a fuckin’ song.

This piece–including a fuckin’ song–is now available on Naked City’s podcast.

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