I never thought I was talented enough to play guitar. I saved up all my money one year when I was about 16 years old to buy my sister a Rickenbacker that my best friend’s father was selling. She was always the outgoing one. She and our father gave me a bass guitar, an electric blue Yamaha. I took some lessons at the local music shop, however I never got much further than learning the strings and playing a riff of Cream’s “Sunshine Of Your Love.”
For the next 15 years, I kept music as a top priority in my life. Even when I moved from the provincial town of my upbringing to the city lights of Chicago, where I majored in art and did my senior project on concert photography, I always managed to merge music into whatever it was I was doing to pay the bills. I toured with bands, sometimes as their merch girl sometimes as an unofficial band member. When I bought a one way ticket on a Greyhound to New York City, the only things I carried with me were: a duffel bag (mostly of clothes, CDs, and books), a pillow, and my bass. I learned how to DJ, but it was not until a year later that I half-jokingly started up a band, The ThrowAway Girls (TAG for short), with a friend of mine who said she had a guitar.
Our first show was on a Saturday night at the Bowery Ballroom opening for Mr. Brownstone, a Guns N’ Roses tribute band. We were completely overwhelmed during sound check. We had no idea which amp was for the guitar and which was for the bass. Our drummer had practiced with us about twice, but we went for it and gave it everything we had, missed beats, flat notes, wrong strings and all. And we had a blast!
Shortly thereafter, TAG dissolved. I needed more.
Then somewhere around a year ago, I was sitting in a hotel room in Jersey City with an ex-non-boyfriend from Chicago after he had played a show at Arlene’s Grocery. I had recently purchased the pink Daisy Rock Wildwood acoustic starter kit and made my way through plucking out “Jingle Bells” and “A Bicycle Built for Two” before writing my first two songs, which consisted mostly of three string chords. We were reclining in front of the picture window before dawn, drunk on Coronginas (Corona with a splash of orange juice), and encircled by ringlets of smoke from our Parliament Lights, which we flicked gingerly into a paper cup of ash-water, when he turned to me and told me for the second time that he always thought I was a rock star. He then handed his acoustic guitar to me, and I fumbled to play my songs for him.
-Fri., July 31st, 2009