My imitation Fender Stratocaster only has five strings. The ‘high’ E snapped about five years ago and I haven’t bothered to replace it. It’s also out of tune.
I’ve had it since I was fifteen, which is now a scarily long time ago.
Back when I was in secondary school I was briefly in a band.
Well, my mate and I used to meet up and attempt to write songs. He wrote the music, because he could play the clarinet, whereas I couldn’t play anything. He wasn’t going to play the clarinet in the band though. He was going to be our bass guitarist. I think, to be fair to him, he did eventually learn how to play the bass. I was going to be lead singer and lead guitarist, despite having no discernible talent at either of those things. I sometimes still sing in the car when I’m on my own. I never mastered more than a few chords on the guitar.
What I could do was write the song lyrics and this I did in abundance. Had we managed to secure the services of a drummer, had I actually learned to play and had I been able to sing in tune, who knows what could have happened. I’d imagine you’d all now be humming along to our back catalogue, which would include hits like, Toxic Hairspray, Stress-head and Dorset Farmer.
We seriously had a song called Dorset Farmer
But my favourite by far was called Car Sick.
It’s the only one I can remember some of the lyrics to, so I’ll share the chorus with you now. It went:
Because I’m car sick
Gonna spew everywhere
Mum’s going spare,
Are we nearly there?
Gonna spew everywhere
When I tell you that the three verses of the song were every bit as poignant as the chorus, you’ll recognise that we had a surefire hit on our hands.
Alas the lack of musical talent did get in the way and while the dream of being a rock star lasted for most of the latter end of my secondary education, it did die shortly afterwards. However, I could never bring myself to part with the guitar. I did sell my amplifier in my early twenties, for what was, in the end, an evening’s beer money (which is a bit ‘rock and roll’ if you think about it…)
My guitar now mostly leans against a bookcase in the spare room, unused and gathering dust. Occasionally though, I do feel moved to pick it up and strum the chords to Green Day’s Basket Case, which is the only song I can remember how to play.
Such a moment happened this week.
When my beloved discovered me strumming away on an unplugged, five-string, tuneless, electric guitar, she shot me a look of affectionate pity.
“You’re very cute,” she told me, “but you are an idiot…”