Lessons Every Artist Needs to Know

On your way to becoming a guitar God(dess), remember…

Lessons Every Artist Needs to Know

Life’s rules often require harsh lessons, especially for the artist. In my late teens and early twenties, parties always seemed to attract guitar-playing assholes. While holding a deep affinity for good, studio-produced music, listening to an amateur fumble the chords to Stairway to Heaven lacked appeal, especially when a perfect-functioning stereo usually sat on the shelf ready to play the real Jimmy Page.

The guitar-guy narrative always unfolded the same way with an arrival at a party with friends, progressing into a fun night of beer, laughter, and music. Somewhere in the night’s mingling and conversations, I found myself bantering with a captivating brunette named Amy as the partiers played quarters and other drinking games in the dining room. Taking refuge in the living room on a large, empty sectional sofa, capable of fitting five or six people, Amy and I positioned where the corners met. She lounged in the sofa’s corner smiling and talking while Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang Southern Cross in the background. The night held much promise, exchanging lively quips and smiles until the guitar guy appeared before us. The grind of frustration shot through me as he sat next to me on the sofa and began polluting the air with a clunky cover of You Better You Bet.

Motioning to Amy, we moved to the beanbag chairs in the opposing corner of the room, where she sank into one while laughing and waving an empty beer bottle at me. Taking the bottle to the kitchen and retrieving her a full one, I felt hope’s rise only to be dashed when the return to the living room revealed the Guitar Guy mutilating Van Halen while sitting in my beanbag next to a mortified Amy. Setting the beers down and helping Amy out of the beanbag, we left Guitar Guy and found our way to the patio. Sharing an outdoor lounge chair on the warm summer night fueled playful laughter before she smiled coyly and kissed me.

A shadowy figure appeared in my eye’s corner and turning revealed the Guitar Guy hovering over us, preparing to sit. “Oh my God!” Amy stood in annoyance. “I’m going to get us some beers.”

As she walked away, I turned to the Guitar Guy. “What the fuck are you doing, man?”

Guitar Guy shrugged like he didn’t understand, so I clarified the meaning. “Man, get the fuck out of here.”

Ignoring me, the amateur sat down and strummed the guitar in a pathetic, attention-starved, relentless pursuit of talent validation. There are rules in life that regulate needs and desires, even an obsessive need for recognition, and Guitar Guy broke the sacred rule: never interrupt a hook-up.

I stood as a catastrophe of Dylan’s All Along the Watch Tower unleashed, and Guitar guy looked up, playing and smiling, perhaps believing a new fan won. Rage and retaliation broke another rule (never fuck with a person’s guitar) when I grabbed the guitar’s neck and yanked. “Dude, you need to get the fuck away from me.”

Anger swept across his face as we vied for control of the instrument, and for an instant, the guitar dangled by its neck gripped in my right and his left hand until I yanked the neck and simultaneously punched him in the stomach with my left. Relinquishing the guitar and falling into the chair, appearing ready to puke, Guitar Guy watched as the guitar jackhammered the concrete cracking the body near the soundboard.

Leaving Guitar Guy with a sad, broken guitar and unfulfilled desperation for fans might seem harsh, but rules exist for a reason. Entering the house, closing and locking the patio door as Amy appeared with our beers, I pointed to the living room, “Let’s go back and sit on the couch.”

Artists are the most arrogant, pathetic, and self-filled people to ever grace our presence.

Everyone hates this guy.