Internet highlights my shortcomings, again

By Jayson Jacoby June 07, 2013 09:21 am

The Internet has brought a world of information to, well, the world, but it also has made it easier than ever for a person to feel inadequate.

And I’m not talking about all those male enhancement ads.

Not completely, anyway.

When I first learned to play guitar, back around third grade, the way you added a song to your repertoire was you went to a music store and perused the sheet music that was displayed next to the 45s.

(45s are thin, doughnut-shaped vinyl discs that have music stored on them, by the way. Sort of like CDs, but even lower-tech. No lasers).

But unless you lived in a metropolis the odds were that the store didn’t stock the song you wanted. You might try to figure out the chords just by ear but even if you couldn’t you didn’t feel like a failure. Most of us aren’t prodigies, after all.

Just recently, having listened to “Rocky Mountain High” one time too many, I could no longer ignore the siren call of a six-string.

I borrowed a nice acoustic and started to reacquaint the fingers of my left hand with the frequently confounding world of flats and minors and barre chords.

(First, though, I had to reacquaint those fingers with the callous — that thick armor without which it’s impossible to exert enough pressure on steel guitar strings to make them ring true.)

Once I was comfortable with the basics, was again capable of switching from a G to a D, or from an E to an A, without making the guitar sound as if Pete Townshend had just gotten ahold of it, I wanted, as any budding musician inevitably does, to turn these building blocks into something recognizable.

I wanted to play actual songs, in other words, to string together chords and notes in a recognizable way.

The Internet makes this ridiculously easy.

Or so I thought at first.

The reality is that the Internet makes it ridiculously easy to find out how a song is supposed to be played.

Unfortunately, as a guitarist with trifling experience and even less talent, trying to mimic the sequence of movements required to produce a credible version of, say, the aforementioned John Denver tune, tends to overtax my scanty skills.

This greatly annoys me.

Worse yet, I can’t seem to stop myself.

I’ve gotten into a habit of scanning radio stations, and setting my mp3 player to choose songs randomly, so I can listen for acoustic guitar parts I like.

Then I go to my computer and within 20 seconds or so there’s the song, complete with lyrics.

Trouble is, often as not the song includes chords I’ve never heard of, and then when I Google the chord I find that I can’t play the thing anyway because apparently the guitarist who wrote the song has fingers like E.T.’s

Basically the Internet doesn’t help me so much as it heckles me, by allowing me to immerse myself in so many hobbies I’m lousy at.

And those ads I mentioned earlier? They offer no relief, either.

They promise of course all sorts of, well, expansion, boasting of monumental expansions in length and girth.

But I’ve yet to find one that says anything about fingers.

Jayson Jacoby is editor 
of the Baker City Herald.