Thursday, August 30, 2018

I Got the Music In Me

A number of titles for this post ran through my head before I settled on what you see above:
  • When I was young...
  • In the days of my youth...
  • I've got another confession to make...
  • usw*
In junior high school I had delusions aspirations of being a rock musician. Purchased a guitar and everything. (Well - another confession - Ma & Pa Sarge bought the guitar for me. The paper route really didn't bring in enough filthy lucre to finance my rock and roll fantasy. Which would also have been a nice post title.)

It was a six string acoustic, very nice, very "inexpensive," in fact it still inhabits a closet somewhere at Chez Sarge. Provided of course The Missus Herself hasn't jettisoned it. She will throw things out which appear to have no useful function. I can't tell you how many times I've woken up next to the trash cans out by the curb.


The guitar itself was in pretty sad shape last time I looked, poor thing has far too many years on it. Sat at the ancestral homestead for many a year while I manned the ramparts of Empire, no one was playing it if I recall, maybe my brother The Musician played it on and off, but he's really picky about his instruments. (Once upon a time Ma & Pa Sarge gave him a mandolin for Christmas, he remarked that the instrument was poorly made and cheap. Ma & Pa Sarge were a bit pissed, the mandolin was returned to the store. When inquiring what gift he could expect instead of the mandolin, I seem to recall Pa Sarge mentioning "Not killing you for upsetting your mother." He may remember it differently.)


So yeah, two of my buddies and I decided to form a band. One of them would be the drummer, as he actually played the drums and had his own kit this seemed very logical. But I was pissed at him anyway. For back in the day, might have been elementary school, but was probably the first year of junior high (what some call "middle school" in these high falutin' modern times), it was decided that everyone would learn to play a musical instrument.

"Everyone should write down what instrument they want to learn." decreed the music teacher, a guy with a bow tie as I recall, not that I'm judging anyone mind you.

Of course, all of the boys wrote down "drums." Well, except this one kid who actually wrote down "clarinet." Which was the choice of most of the girls, when they weren't choosing flute of course. Again, not judging, but back then that's what most girls wanted to play. Well, there may have been one girl who wanted to play the saxophone. She was pretty cool.

At any rate, the bow-tie-clad music man decreed that not all of us boys could play the drums. When we inquired as to "why the hell not?" the real reason for all of this was revealed. It wasn't an attempt to teach we chilluns to play an instrument, nope, not at all. It was to fill the band, the high school band, eventually, after we'd learned to play. So only one drummer was needed, and the aforementioned buddy of mine was the lucky one. I so wanted to play the drums. (I think my Dad actually gave thanks to the Deity when I announced that I would not be playing the drums any time soon. I now understand why.)

To finish this particular thread, I was "voluntold" to play the trumpet. Said instruments could be purchased at a reasonable discount through a deal the school had with the local musical emporium. I was a bit excited at getting a nice shiny new trumpet. Alas, it was not to be. Seems the neighbors across the street had an old cornet (similar to a trumpet, not a cavalry subaltern if that's what you were thinking) and why yes the young pre-Sarge could indeed borrow it for his musical endeavors.

I was not very good on the cornet, probably would have been terrible on the trumpet as well. Even Dobbs sounded better than me...


My "prowess" on the cornet might have explained Pa Sarge's reluctance to spend money on a guitar. But Ma Sarge, being an incredible singer and rather musically inclined, insisted. So guitar in hand, I learned a few chords, and we formed a "band."

As my buddy Phil knew more chords, could pick a tune out, and had a nicer guitar, he got to be the lead guitarist and singer. While I didn't suck at back up vocals, letting me sing lead, or by myself would have probably killed our little band aborning. Lead guitarist, rhythm guitarist, and a drummer, t'would be all we needed. Two things went wrong...

Jerry, our putative drummer, wasn't allowed to bring his drums to our practices, bloody things cost a pretty penny dontcha know? Why he can just drum on a sofa cushion or the like. So with that, and the lack of a bassist, our percussion section was a trifle weak.

Then there was Phil's love affair with The Monkees. While I liked them well enough, they weren't The Beatles or The Rolling Stones or any of the half-a-hundred other bands out there. The Monkees, for those who don't know, were "crafted" by Hollywood. (To cash in on the success of The Beatles' two films is how I recall it.) From my understanding, not a one could play an instrument when they starting filming that show. Sure they learned, but to quote the film, they weren't bona fide!

We went back and forth on the whole Monkees/Beatles thing for weeks, all the while slowly learning songs. Mostly Monkees with a couple of Beatles tunes as a sop to moi. But we didn't sound right, what with Jerry's thumping on cushions, my four or five chords, and Phil's eight or nine chords and the occasional slow riff.

That's when Phil suggested that I should take up the bass guitar.

"Uh Phil, I don't have a bass."

"No problem, just play the bass bits on your six string."

Which I got pretty good at, but still, we didn't sound right. Meanwhile I was agitating on the home front for a bass guitar purchase to be subsidized by Ma & Pa Sarge. "We can't afford that!" I was finally told one day, even though I knew where I could get a bass and a small amp for pennies, so to speak. (More pennies than I had but much cheaper than brand new.)

I was told, "We'll think about it."

Only to come home the next day to see Pa Sarge's brand new eight track player with a whole bunch of eight track tapes to play upon it. Ma Sarge figured I'd be miffed, and she was right, but I realized that after all, it was Pa Sarge's money, not mine.

The band died shortly thereafter. Phil and I had a spat over the whole bass guitar thing, seems that Ma & Pa Sarge were kind of willing to foot the bill for a school field trip to Germany with the language club, for to speak the Deutsch with real live Germans. Phil suggested that I forego the field trip and spend the money on the bass. Ma & Pa Sarge weren't amenable to that.

As it turns out, I didn't go to Germany either. But now we could listen to Pa Sarge's eight track tapes in the car AND the house. Yup, he bought another one. Again, his money, not mine. But the band was a no go.

One of my first purchases when I was working in the factory before joining the Air Force was a bass guitar. But didn't really have time to play it, factory jobs take up more time than school, and most of the guys I knew who played were already in bands with very good bass players. I was simply "okay."

"But pre-Sarge, can you sing?"

"Uh yeah, we'll call you."

Anyhoo, I went into the Air Force, did a lot of jamming with a few guys on Okinawa, playing the bass (and not singing). Got fairly decent at it. Played off and on for years, mostly to records. Just to keep my hand in.

A few years back, I bought a six-string electric and a bass, got a good deal. Started playing regularly, then life happened and didn't pick up the guitars for a good ten years. Until the junior granddaughter walked into my computer room, saw the guitars and announced, "Rock and Roll!" (She's almost three.) Which prompted the senior granddaughter to ask if I could play.

"Well, I used to..."

Looking at me, very wisely and seriously (you know how seven year old girls can be) and said, "You should start again. Seriously Grampa, start again."

So I plan to. (God forbid I'm also looking at electric drum kits, just in case ya know.)

Like I said, I got the music in me...

Said song is damned near my motto these days...

Ain't got no trouble in my life,
No foolish dream to make me cry.
I'm never frightened or worried,
I know I'll always get by.
I heat up (I heat up)
I cool down (I cool down)
When something gets in my way I go round it.
Don't let life get me down
Gonna take life the way that I found it.

Yup, I got the music in me.

* usw = und so weiter, literally "and so on," German equivalent of et cetera. You knew that I would throw German at ya, didntcha?


  1. "Welcome to your life, there's no turning back"....courtesy of Tears For Fears. Strange how and where the life track goes eh Sarge?

  2. Cornet, trumpet, whatever.
    In the hands of an amateur, the neignbors will complain.
    I know that well.

  3. I learned to play bluegrass on guitar, loved it. Didn't have the dexterity to pick fast licks tho. Basically did the rhythm and some harmony. Got drafted to hold a tuba in HS band. Dad made me practice outside. Made first chair without being able to read bass clef. ("Hey, Ramirez, what's a C? "First and third, go low." But I knew the fingerings... (I could play the intro melody of Hot Stuff on it!) But life happened, kids, college, kids, work, kids ate up the time. I still have my guitar, too. Maybe someday, but boy the fingers are stiff and Art Rightus lives here now, and he is a complete jerk. Gets in my way no matter what I'm doing.

    Looking forward to you posting some Hot Stuff on here soon... Whip it good, Sarge!

    1. Man, Hot Stuff, now that brings back memories!

      Yeah, Art is an a-hole. So far he's left my upper extremities alone, playing Hell with the knees though!

  4. Go for it Sarge, give you something to do everyday when you do retire. I play now everyday for an hour or two and after five years I am borderline not-horrible! But much enjoyment. I do have a basement that is (I hope) almost soundproof.

    1. The story of your getting Mrs. C an electric drum kit inspired me. Amazing what the state of the art is!

      The guitars will also make a come back. Like you say, need something in retirement, can't write 24/7 can I?

    2. Scales and finger exercises for 1/2 hour or until your fingers bleed, for the first week or so. Soak fingers in a brine slurry after, once they are toughened up you are good to go. I see good times ahead when you and the Musician get together.

    3. Oh, I am familiar with the perils of playing with soft fingers.

  5. Zero musical ability. Flunked 5th grade tone-et. My two youngest are decent with guitars so helped them with instruments and amps. Rather have them and their friends in my house making noise (where I could keep an eye on them) then off who knows where doing ????. Naturally, they formed a band, "The Lucky Sperm".

  6. My dad played the Cornet in high school and college, and then went into the Air Force and fugedaboutit.

    Me? I struggle to understand musical notation (it's a foreign language, mind does not grok foreign languages well) but I know when to go up and down.

    My professional organist/music teacher friend wanted to chop my hands off. I have over a chord of finger stretch but lacked the coordination of a guppy out of water. Sad, so sad.

    And I always wanted to be a harpist (from watching Harpo Marx) or a violinist (watching Werner Klemperer on 'Hogan's Heroes.') but again, lack of coordination.

    Though I got to where I could pluck out "Ghost on the Water" on my elder brother's electric guitar. You know, like 100 million other boys...

    1. I don't read music, too esoteric for me, I play by ear. In my defense, when The Beatles started, they couldn't read music. Also, Dave Grohl still can't read music.

      Need a tune written out? Hire someone. That's my philosophy, provide jobs, hire someone.

    2. They have computer programs for all that. The movie "Music and Lyrics" with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore shows a nice home studio equipped with just about everything one needs. All done from computers and mix boards.

      Wife's trumpet-playing friend has a nice home set-up. He can sit and riff on the trumpet and his combonculator will work out all the musical notation, timing, holds, all that music stuff. Even sicker is the transposition software that can take his trumpeting and transpose it to any other regular instrument or register, change the beat, the whole nine yards.

      Some of the programs are so sick you can hum into a microphone and it will lay out the basic track, then you just futz with it and, et voila! A full 4-piece tune with backup, all done in a flash of electrons.

      Sick world we live in, in a good way.

    3. Ooh, I like it! (Like it, yes I do...)

  7. Funny how our musical upbringing followed similar paths. I was started out on coronet because they needed a coronet player. Got moved to sousaphone because they needed someone beefy enough to carry the thing. Moved to upright bass because pretty Susie stood next to the sousaphones in orchestra and I needed an excuse to flirt with her. Wound up playing bass in a band and making a couple of records that were somewhat popular.

    I went to high school with one of the Monkees, Michael Nesmith, although I didn't know him at the time and he was yet to be famous.

    I haven't picked up an instrument in years and am not sure what I could do with it if I did.

    1. You might be surprised. It's like riding a bicycle. (Sort of.)

    2. Well, let me tell you about the last time I rode a bicycle...

    3. Hence the "sort of." YMMV and sounds like it does.

    4. Flugelman- anything we've heard of?

    5. But you can't play the flugelhorn? Badgers are good at honking Sousaphones.

    6. Tuna - somewhere in the archives he mentioned the band, I think.

  8. OT, but Beans! Guess What? Our picture is up on Bayou Renaissance Man's Blog today. That's me in the middle, you to my right and Tuna to my left. LUSH, for some reason, is nowhere to be seen.

    1. LUSH is probably back in the CO's cabin sipping margueritas with her Dad, the CO.

      Just sayin'...

    2. Family connections, why is it always family connections...

    3. Ah, 'tis the way of the world boyo.

  9. Naw, the CO is skiing behind the boat. Look at the exertions on their faces, takes a lot of strength to row fast enough to get him up on plane.
    Just sayin'....

    1. Has to be him. Towing LUSH would take little exertion.

      As to get him up on plane, I thought that's what the button Murphy is questing for is for.

    2. Why Juvat, I, I, I...

      Never mind, you ain't far from the truth.

    3. How gallant of you Beans. Being nice to LUSH and all.

      And I see you've been studying the archives as well. Good man.

    4. I made a mention of Murph's fascination with buttons twice yesterday, chumming the waters for comments, and got nuttin. One toss off comment today I get noticed. Hmmph.

      As to being gallant to LUSH, it has nothing to do with her being directly associated with naval officer associations and me being in strike-range of Jacksonville. Nope. Plus, she makes goofy comments about you. We must work to keep your head reduced so you don't bankrupt your poor wife buying new hats, right?

    5. So you have seen through my cunning plan?

      As to Murphy's fascination with buttons, I try not to encourage him. He has yet to find a button he will not push.

    6. Well, there's that magic dump release button on an elephant. I think that might be the only one he won't push.

      Though, from reading his blog, he sure knows how to push the right buttons with the locals.

  10. That, by the way, is a two shot kill comment. The first to get him to break and bleed off energy, the second to put him away.


      Well, at least the emergency beacon is working...

      Now, if you fellas would just turn the boat around, there's a good lad.

    2. Better watch it or I'll force you to wipe out in a pile of jelly-fish. (Yes, the one time waterskiing, I piloted the boat through a patch of jfs and the rider freaked out and wiped out.)

    3. Ah, another joy of Florida waters!

  11. "Und" or "um"? I always heard it was um so weiter...ach du lieber Zeit!

    1. I've always heard (and said) "um". I wonder if it could be the difference between hoch Deutsche und platt Deutsche?
      My HS German teacher said "um" as well.

    2. That's odd, I've never heard it that way. Good be a regional thing I suppose.

      Plug "usw" into Google Translate, it also comes up "und so weiter."

    3. Google "um so weiter" and you'll also get some hits. Some usage combines it as "umso". Might be a regional thing.

    4. I did, I've never seen that usage but it exists. Officially though, "usw" is short for the "und" version.

      I blame the Bavarians, they barely speak German. (My northern German friends will chuckle, my Bavarian friends will not. Don't get me started on the way the Austrians speak German.)

    5. Speaking of Austrians, I may be related to some of them. My mother's parents immigrated from Germany to West Texas. And when talking about the family history, she would sometimes talk about a branch of the family she called the "A-strikes", at least that's how it sounded when I was a kid. It was many years later that I figured out that with a proper umlaut, that she was probably saying Ostreich.

    6. When I was in Germany the Winter Olympics aired. When they were interviewing an Austrian skier on German TV, there were subtitles. Of course the dialect where I lived was nearly indecipherable to me. Sounded like a mixture of Dutch and German. As we lived right on the border with the Netherlands, not to surprising I guess.

  12. You were in a band? For some reason I thought of this:

    1. Hahaha!

      Great clip, that was Huey Lewis behind the megaphone.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.