5.13.2008

Anyone know how to sing?

The last thing I did in Berlin before catching a flight to Copenhagen was get a DRUM LESSON.

Gasp! How long have I wanted to play drums? Since high school.

After I got kicked out of piano lessons for my bad attitude (not practicing, sitting sullenly on the bench, poking keys with zero animation whatsoever), my mom gently steered me towards the guitar.

We bought a red electric guitar and amp and I proceeded to learn the most uninspiring song on the face of the universe, "Country Dance". This song that did not go well with an electric guitar.

I eventually got an acoustic guitar but for some reason that didn't make me want to play Country Dance, either. I couldn't see a light at the end of the Country Dance tunnel. I put in appearances at a few twangy recitals and was finally allowed to quit. I JUST WASN'T MUSICAL.

Except. Every time I went to a show at Bogart's, my neck and arms broke out in goosebumps at a good drum beat. I was in a constant state of shiver with the drums. Something that never happens with guitars.

I now appreciate the piano from afar and when I stay at friends' homes who play - Gail, Rem, Jon Hudson - I think a little Sunday morning piano is nice. Lovely, in fact. But when I sit on the bench, I'm instantly over it.

So I've made this joke for like 15 years now about how I'm going to be a drummer in a girl band. 80% joke, 20% sign me up.

Last week I was talking to Aidan, the drummer for Long Walk Home, and he offered to teach me some beats. I put my hands on my cheeks and opened my mouth like a caricature of someone being surprised and excited. And then covered my eyes like a little kid.

We went to his studio, a room with two kits in it. He showed me how to hold the sticks and where to put my feet and we sat across from each other.

"One ee and uh Two ee and uh Three ee and uh Four ee and uh," I counted out loud.

I tried this and I tried that and it was going pretty well. I only hit the sticks over my head or stuck them in my ears out of frustration once or twice and eventually I was working on a drum & bass beat that I managed to hold for a while while Aidan WENT CR-A-ZY playing over it.

Oh, my lord. The only reason I stopped, besides the fact that I was getting confused and had taken up a lot of Aidan's studio time, was that I broke down laughing because it was so insanely fun.

"So, uh," I asked as I was leaving, "How much does a basic kit cost?"

"About four hundred dollars," he said.

I put that into terms I understand: that's a few pairs of boots. A few pair of boots I would sacrifice to be the drummer in a middle-aged grrl band.

This weekend Joanna and I biked around and wandered into Christiania, a community within Copenhagen where people have been squatting and being communal and peaceful and not paying taxes within a cloud of pot smoke since 1971.

I'd made a few comments about how I wanted to ogle the separatists but I knew I had to be COOL about it. Christianians are down with anyone coming into their community as long as you don't take photos and act like a jackass.

We were walking along the trail when music started up behind the trees. Metal, punk, something. I would have expected more lutes or dulcimers but this was cool, too.

video

I took a quick video when no one was around and we made our way to the gravel garden where a stage was set up. Benches and tables and boulders surrounded a giant Buddha-head statue.

We sipped beers and I nodded towards Buddha and asked Joanna, "Do you think he likes this music?"

I wish I liked smoking pot because this would have been the perfect time to light it up.

And even though I'm pretty much never in the mood for metal, I looked down and noticed my leg was going off to the drum beat. I told Joanna that I want to play drums and said she wanted to learn the harmonica.

"Well, start now!" I said, "You can play harmonica in my band!"

Which is the second suggestion I had for Joanna this weekend, the other being that she develop a character based on herself called the Swedish Gardener. The gardener would be just as goofy as Swedish Chef but she'd also scrunch her face up all funny like Joanna does when she's thinking hard.

And of course would say lots of those Scandinavian vowels that only come out if you're using the muscles buried all the way in the bottom of your throat.

We begin rehearsal this time in 2009, Joanna. See you then.

And Aidan, THANK YOU.

7 comments:

roopa said...

Sign me up. Can I play bass, too? Because I've always wanted to play bass and sing in a band (except I can't play the bass for shit).

The Librarian said...

Make techno. Lots of drum beats, minimal talent required.

Best,
M

The Librarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

So how many boots is a harmonica?

/the Swedish Gardener

ronckytonk said...

roopa: I forgot about your pipes! you are totally my singer.

the librarian: I MIGHT have a lot of drum talent, though. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm a prodigy. But I'm thinking it.

JMFF: a harmonica is only a couple of flip flops. you have no excuse.

Lukas said...

i'm an honorary middle aged girl, so i could play kazoo or something. also, i kind of know how to play piano.

ronckytonk said...

shmook! if you are an honorary middle-aged girl - AND YOU ARE - I think we should also make a place for Franklin in the band.

you on keys and Franklin on bass (sorry roopa, but please imagine a kindly grey-haired book publicist in a suit on bass. Or we could have two?)