Man vs. Guitar

From the novel Fun (c) Mike Mosher 1990.

Go back to talking about guitars with the world's greatest guitarist with the world's best equipment, even if it did come from J-Mart. Glad I grew up when I did, or I would've ended up playing accordion. I was a doctor examining musical instruments. Whereas Tippy preferred the adhoc instruments of his own body and breath, I preferred always the newest guitars, push-button and slide controls, soundamatic fingertip-glide on guitars so big I could hardly carry them. That quality the English blues guitarists call Whitsuntidefire. An expert and connoisseur of guitars so finicky I'd get rid of a guitar when it got out of tune. My strings were embittered. What they used to call mandolin indolence.

I had this guitar made of petrified wood--it weighed a ton--with dinosaur bone tuning pegs and knobs and fretboard inlay. Now we'd like to do an old song from the Silurian. I had this one guitar that sounded like cymbals, one guitar sounded like razzamatazz. Tonight I was playing this old Buzz Aldrin ESP guitar, the kind that'd been to space to entertain the crew of the Mercury capsules (the crew strummed "Sloop John B."), bought at a NASA garage sale and evoking all the found spiritual release and mystery of such a trip. One guitar called an Antiseptic, all tiled and grouted, soap-dished and toothpaste'd like a hospital bathroom recently sponge'd clean. Guitars that said Sold for prevention of disease only. For medium or heavy musical flow. A Grand Guignol guitar. A Sado-caster. Cream of Predator. This one is dedicated to the Non-Dairy Creamed. Written on my guitar was the line THIS MACHINE KILLS FOLKSINGERS. And that goes double for their ilk, mild soft students.

Cheesecutter guitar. Black leather guitars. The lead guitar must have contempt for the song, try to push its way out of the confines of the melody like a butt in tight jeans. Wormwire guitar strings. Nails in the cross equal fingernails, fingernail guitar picks. The nails from the cross three tuning pegs, the other three from topsy-turvy Saint Peter. Tried using live moths as guitar picks, wriggling centipede scorpions hardly better. Music a signature as unique as fingerprints upon a glass. My musical signature, I strum a B-fat chord.

So what do I really make of this Megaron Manson amp and electric guitar?

I took up guitar to combat my compulsive washing of the hands, I could be distracted by generating riffs up and down the fingerboard. Convent sticks. Saul of the Metatarsuls. In school I was voted Least Likely to Decide. Playing with bear paws, as a bear sucks its paw for nourishment in the cave while hibernating. Though these were the days of the cliché of guitar as a revolutionary rifle, I thought of it more as a farm implement, a rake or hoe. The rake's progress over the Autumn leaves that was the audience, pushing them over the treebelt and curb to burn in the street. I felt like a player potato, I don't know anything about music, I don't know how to play this thing. I have had a good education, I've seen all the top rock bands, I have read all the liner notes. Still I'm always the one-note novice. Not a session man, but an obsession man. Now my right hand is clenched firmly on my guitar strings as it strums and nervously pick-peck-picks. Maybe I took up the guitar to be ipthyphallic. I took up that guitar almost as a prosthetic device, and you can guess which missing or underdeveloped limb. I took up the guitar because the best Eighth Grade girls in the shortest skirts didn't want to dance when I asked. Guitar was my sock hop. That which on Sado-Hawkins Day chose me.

At first I was so nervous in Rock I seriously considered the option of playing two songs at once on two different guitars. It's because I don't fuck many people that I play music with such promiscuity. Compare this to Tippy, whom everything he plays sounds like himself. Relax, said Tippy, it's all in the electronics and turned something way over to the right so it sounded like an airplane taking off inside a whale. Avionics of the guitar, musically equivalent to the headaches of frustrated radar engineers on an inefficient airline. An incapacitor on the guitar, or in the amp. I had these guitar attachments like the Bull-in-a-China-Clipper for that Gutter of Sound approach. Guitar devices which give too much power. Feedback like a wasp whistling. I'm not-so-secretly scared of electric appliances, even lights but especially TV and radio. To turn something On is a terrific responsibility. Like activating a band saw or lathe, it should be watched hawkishly till it's turned off. You wouldn't abandon an electric chainsaw, would you? Feedback like the words I never slur, the continuity and passage of time of which I'm never aware, or try so hard not to be. I can't even wear a watch, fer Chrissake, with out it taking me over, sending out tendrils of time into my brain. Tears of Time. Victimized my guitar. Made my guitar shriek, scream, whistle for help or merely a cab. Sitting on a window ledge radiator, just me and my guitar, like a hip young realtor, playing through a box of hair. Studying bluesuedeology. Just pissing my guitar, why? One summer I decided I'd summon the Devil, if only for advice on playing the guitar better and to best him in philosophical argument. So in the presence of a black cat I sez the Lloyd's of London Prayer backwards, then soul-kissed the cat under it's tail like a hashoil-stuffed bong--and I hate cats! Ptooey!--but when this didn't summon Old Black Joe so I fling the cat against the wall to quiet it, creating a terrible mess of blood, shit and piss everywhere. What'll I tell Mom when she gets home? Can I blame it on my brother? She'll tell me to turn down the record player, that's for sure, or make an unkind comment about my haircut. "His behavior was no better than his guitar" some smalltown newspaper would sniff someday. Who knows, maybe someday I'll get these guitars out of my room. Actually play with other guys. See the opportunity.

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