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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Playing music

I've started playing the guitar again. I'm not sure why. I was talking with a new school friend who also plays, and I got the brilliant idea of playing together some time. I suppose that made me think, "I better brush up on all my music!" and suddenly I'm hooked again. I find myself longing, in quiet moments, for my guitar and songs in my throat (I'd like to say, "for its familiar touch under my fingers," but in fact, my fingers ache right now from playing. I haven't had my guitar callouses in quite a few years now, and thus my fingers are raw from the wire strings.)

What I love about it is that it's the only time I feel comfortable singing. I really do love to sing, but years of unuse have warped my pitch. I remember church choir in high school and the director commenting on my lovely high soprano, but now I'm a low, gravelly alto, and a woefully out-of-tune one to boot. But somehow, with the guitar guiding me, my voice sounds better. Maybe it's that when I'm focusing on my fingerwork, and hitting the right strings, I don't have time to be self-conscious about my voice.

This summer I heard an Emmylou Harris song for the first time that I loved, and I thought, "I could play that!" It's called "There'll Never Be Anyone Else But You," and I worked it up to play for Tim on ouranniversary. I guess playing him a song I learned special just for him is about the greatest present I could ever give him (well, second best). It was a lot of work, finding the downloadable song online, the lyrics and chords, then playing along to the recording--and adjusting the key signature when mine just didn't fit with the recording. But every minute was fun. It was exciting creating something like that.

I'm no Mozart, or rather, Jimmy Page. I'm not about to compose my own music. I don't know if I ever would have the skills to. But it's like a puzzle, figuring out the chords that already exist in a song you want to learn; say, if it includes G, and C, then it probably has a D chord in there somewhere, too. And then being able to play it . . . ! It feels like an accomplishment.

And I'm playing the piano again, against my better judgment. All Blindfaith Theatre has to do is say, "we're desperate," and I'm putty in their hands. I don't know how they rated this, but they're doing the world premiere of a Rebecca Gilman colloboration called "Lord Butterscotch and the Curse of the Blackwater Phantom." (Rebecca Gilman, for those of you who don't know--I didn't used to--is a highly acclaimed Chicago playright, and tops the list of playrights whoseplays Tim wants to perform. I would score major wife-of-the-millenium points if I somehow could wrangle an occasion for Tim to meet her.)And there's creepy, eerie music set in the background. They need a sub for a few nights, not someone for the whole run, and I couldn't say no.

Come see it! It's running at the storefront theatre until Jan. 6.



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