Why Play Guitar?

I’ve reached the time of life where “doing the math” can be a little scary. I recently calculated that I’ve now been playing guitar for about 26 years – most of that time, mind you, without any kind of discipline, consistency, or regularity. Thus I still consider myself very much a beginner, even though I’ve been at it a long while now. In all that time, somehow I’ve never managed to consider why I started (and continue) to play.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I didn’t become interested in music until my early teen years. The first two albums I ever bought (on cassette, in 1986) were the Bangles’ Different Light and License to Ill by the Beastie Boys – an early indication of the “eclectic” tastes I’ve continued to develop over the years. However, I think my interest in making music has its origins just a bit later, and was rooted in a somewhat different genre.

Among other things, the1980s are remembered as the decade of the so-called “hair metal” bands. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, you should pause to check out this article on the subject – as always, Wikipedia has all the answers. Suffice it to say that “hair metal” is a classification so broad as to be almost useless, and there are more than a few bands frequently lumped into the category – Tesla, Cinderella, and Guns n’ Roses, for example – that (I believe) have too much substance to stand alongside your average leather-n-spandex clad, copiously hair-sprayed, pointy-guitar-toting glam metal group. That was the state of contemporary, mainstream rock at the time, though, and for better or worse I was captivated. These guys played loud, catchy music – plus they dressed cool, grew their hair long, dated supermodels, and generally raised the middle finger to society-at-large. How could I not want to be a part of that?

I’ll have more on this topic in a future post, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with this – one of the most profound creative statements of 1986:


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