Quiet Desperation

`So you want to be a rock `n' roll star'


This is about as close to music as I can get. I am going to string together some songs and lyrics.

"Regrets? I've had a few" ("My Way"), and almost all of them were in the aftermath of "stumbling down drunken roads" (Dave Matthews' Folsom Field version of "Two Step").

One of my biggest regrets is that I can't read or play music. I can paint and draw, thankfully, but I wish that I had picked up a guitar at the same time I was picking up crayons.

"Late yesterday night" ("From a Window" written by Lennon and McCartney and given to Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas), I watched a documentary about the history of the electric guitar. I almost wept. It was on the Smithsonian Channel.

The same names kept coming up: Gibson, Fender, Les Paul and then later Jimi Hendrix.

I think if I had three wishes, one of them would be this: to play "Walk Don't Run" on a Fender Stratocaster. "Does that make me crazy? Does that make me crazy?" ("Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley).

Sinéad O'Connor said, "I don't want what I haven't got." Easy for her to say.

I want what I don't have. I want to play a "perfectly good guitar" (John Hiatt).

I want to play like Mark Knopfler for Jennifer. I want to play lead guitar on "Lady Writer" for Jennifer.

About all I can do is whistle. I don't know anything about keys. I just read about them on the Internet, and I am still in the dark. "The key of a piece of music usually refers to the tonic note and chord, which gives a subjective sense of arrival and rest." I used to drink vodka with a tonic note. Not the same thing.

Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) could probably pick up a $10 ukulele and make it sound great.

I am in awe when I watch a singer sing and play guitar at the same time. I can't do either one separately. I watched Harry Connick, Jr. go around his orchestra at Red Rocks, and play every instrument. I wanted to strangle him.

The good news is that he can't paint worth a damn and I can.

When a Colorado Rockies hitter comes to the plate, their plate music is played. I know what mine would be. On even days it would be the intro of "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. On odd days, it would be the intro of "Summertime Blues," by Eddie Cochran.

"I'd like to help you son, but you're too young to vote."

I have a double-CD of guitar music that I have listened to over and over. Christopher Parkening. For years I had heard Parkening one selection at a time. When I heard the double-CD for the first time "my heart stood still" (Rogers & Hart). I repeat them both, and it fills an entire Sunday afternoon.

Acoustic guitar is very pleasing, but it doesn't have the same adrenaline as electric guitar. The intro of "Substitute" by The Who just wouldn't be the same.

I have a pinched ulnar nerve in my right hand, so even if I studied guitar, I would be limited. I know it's a lost cause. Don't tell me an old dog can learn new tricks.

An old dog will never be able to play the guitar solo in "Time" like David Gilmour  (Pink Floyd). "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way." That's what this column is called: "Quiet Desperation." Pink Floyd took it from a Henry David Thoreau poem.

If I tried to play, well, my guitar would "gently weep" (Beatles). And weep.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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