They don't listen to the Old Man, of course. And, to be fair, why should they? I haven't written fan mail since I was their age, and shame on me. For instance, if Devin knows I'm crushing on him, it's through no fault of my own. In hindsight, instead of courting injury at the edge of the circle pit during this concert, I should have forked out for the Meet-n-Greet. The backstage pass cost several times the price of admission, but at my stage in life (and his tier of fame) it was perfectly affordable — even something of a deal, when contrasted to what I paid to see Steely Dan earlier that year. I've no idea what Townsend would have made of beholding a puffy 50-year-old in the same queue as a bunch of excited kids half that age — and there's the pity. It might have amused him, it might have thrown him off-kilter — we shall never know, alas.
|"That's me in the middle,* finding my religion..."|
Anyhow, earlier this week I broke out the digital pen-and-paper and wrote my first fan-letter in decades.
I can't give any account of what happened that won't sound pedestrian. First off, it's all Music Theory 101. Mrs. K___, my piano teacher, tried to impart this basic understanding when I first began lessons with her as a seven-year-old. Forty-three years later my daughter explained it to me all over again, with pencil and paper and charts. I'd memorized it, and I could recite it at will. But I could memorize and recite a Japanese koan with greater understanding than I had for this basic, basic material.
I'd been a campfire guitarist for 30 years. I knew what “One, four, five” meant, kinda. The main thing was, if you gave me the key, I could play the three “magic chords” just fine.
By the end of episode 6, I understood how “One, four, five” related to the major scale, and how the major scale could be applied to any standard one- or two- or three (plus)-chord pop or blues song to make a pleasant-sounding solo.
But it blew my head open.
I couldn't begin to count how many times I've had that simple, fundamental theory explained to me over the last five decades — it never, ever, sank in until this week.
There are two reasons for this revelation: 1) Justin Sandercoe is just about the Socratic Ideal of what an instructor should be; 2) this gentleman stood in as my Student Avatar, so that as the concepts became real to him, they became real to me.
So I wrote “Captain” Lee Anderton a fan-letter. Dude's 46 years old, runs a successful music shop in the UK, has a wife and kids of his own, but he's willing to go on-camera and learn the fundamentals of music theory so he can improve his guitar chops just a bit — in front of millions. That takes some sand. And now he's got a 53-year-old fan-boy.
Yes, well . . . let's not make any more of that than we need to. What I really want to stress is this: the world needs more fan mail.
I don't have to tell you what a downer it's become to turn on the computer and log in. We can't even pick up the bloody phone without getting minute-by-minute updates announcing the growing toxicity of global social expectations. Anything that counters that is a sprout of joy that needs protection and nourishment. “Likes” are nice — but fan-mail is better.
Post-script: Hm, looks like the production people at Anderton's/JustinGuitar have removed Episode Six — temporarily, I'm sure. I think they mistakenly posted Six before Five, so you'll just have to wait — or start at the beginning and catch up. But the larger point is there is probably something/someone else who's bringing you joy — let's hear about it. And let them hear about it, won't you?