“Blame it on Nancy”
July 13 2002
Quite a few people have asked me, how did I come to play guitar and why did I choose that particular instrument. Although I can’t remember why I chose guitar, since I always prefered (even today) piano, I remember why I felt it important to be very good at it, or at least as good as I could be. It started in high school, in the summer before grade 10. I was only 15 but I’d gotten a gift from my grandfather for graduating middle school; an electric guitar, which was not only want I wanted, but what I specifically asked for! I still remember it, all red sunburst with beautiful white knobs. It was a Fender Strat copy, made by Kay (like a dumb ass, I traded this beautiful instrument years later to my best friend at the time, Tony Pittman, for a piece of shit guitar he built…what a fool I was…) and I just loved it so much! Only thing was, I didn’t have an amp. But my mom loaned me the money (about $99) to buy a Peavey Sidekick, a little amp with a really loud sound. I was ready, or so I thought.
School started up in September and I enrolled in Stage Band and Jazz band. I was the youngest guy in the class..and by far, the slowest. Our music teacher, Mr. Rogers, took no crap from anybody and if he asked you to play something , he wanted no excuses. Even though I was the least talented in the class, he took a liking to me and went easy on me. There was a girl who played flute named Tammi and she had a sister named Nancy, who happened to “sort of” be dating the excellent trombone player, Terrance, who, for some reason, wore a suit everyday (to a public school, no less…). Nancy was gorgeous, nice and spoke with the biggest smile. Terrance was mean and I could not understand why she liked this dork. She smiled at me everytime she saw me and would always say hello. She wasn’t shy but at the time, I was very shy. I had a crush on her but there wasn’t anything I could do. Even though I was a few inches taller than Terrance, he was physically menacing because he lifed weights and he always looked like he wanted to kill me. So, that was a problem.
After about 3 months in the music classes, I got a lot better and slowly began to read music, but not nearly as good as the others, who could site read like it was nothing. terrance really got a kick out of teasing me about this and used to ask me “if I brought my guitar chord book” on a regular basis. But it seemed like the more he harrassed me, the more Nancy was nice to me. One day she told me she played guitar. You do, I thought to myself? So said we should exchange phone numbers and maybe we could “jam” (there goes that word again…). Well, you can imagine how I felt after that, right? I couldn’t believe it and I raced home and wasted no time calling. I mean, I could wait but what if the Russians launched a full on nuclear attack? Or an astroid hit the planet and killed everyone? I wanted to just talk to nancy without the tough guy looking over my shoulder. And our conversations went great. We started a neat friendship but as time went on, Terrance and her got closer, or maybe it was my imagination, but I backed off a little bit. I guess I just liked her too much. She was as sweet as a georgia peach, and twice as nice, as they say in the south. Nancy also played on the Tennis team so she was quite popular. As that school year finished up, I was determined to become a much better musician and a better guitar player overall.
That summer, I stayed home while my friends went to westwood to hang out and chase skirts or go to parties and drink till they puked. I got a 4 track recorder and played guitar everyday until my fingers hurt. My mother thought I was crazy and would constantly yell at me for sleeping with guitar plectrums (picks) in my mouth. But by the time the 11th grade rolled around, I was good at reading and writing music, including horn charts. I’d learned a boatload of guitar chords and I was playing guitar pretty good for a 16 year old. After 2 weeks back, Mr. Rogers quit and the school hired Mr. Mac donald, a total square from Salt lake. But Mr. Mac Donald, as confused of a human being as he was (and he was CONFUSED), was the greatest help I ever had, musically. I don’t think I could even put into words, the encouragment he gave me. This made Terrance hate me even more but I had a few tricks up my sleeve for old Terrance, There was to be an achievement ceremony in the gymnasium and the Stage band was supposed to provide the music. We were to warm the crowd up with 3 songs,”Birdland”, “Let’s Groove” and “Fame”, the latter tune having an amazing “show off” guitar solo. I made sure of two things before we played; 1.) there was ample space for me to step out into the open 2.) I told the guy working the piano to turn me up loud when I winked at him. As soon as the solo part came up, I wink at the guy and took off running , like a 747 jet and slid on my knees until I was dead smack out in the open and I solo’d like the world was 2 minutes from ending. Afterwards, the whole gym exploded in applause. I looked over at Terrance and he was red in the face and shaking his head, mubling something about how I messed the show up. Tim, one of the trumpet players, told him to shut up and that I had “gotten down.” After school that day, 10 girls asked me to the prom ! I’d figured it out. Or so I thought…
Nancy was really impressed with the guitar antics. but now, her being in the 12th grade, she was getting ready for the universities and I was just an 11th grader who played guitar. I guess I never made my move and she was just tired of waiting. I guess her and Terrance were never really an item but I let him intimidate me any way. But she was one of the main reasons, if not THE main reason, I worked so hard to get better and better at the guitar. But in the end, the bad guy still got the girl. And funny, but I wonder what happened to Nancy. I can’t remember her last last name for the life of me and we lost touch after high school. I just wanted to impress her. But now when I think of it, maybe I was better off hanging out with my friends and not missing some of my teenage years because I was too busy learning guitar licks off records. It’s a boring existence, people. Take it from me; put the guitar down and go out and have some fun. Never get too wrapped up in your own thing because you can lose perspective. And you’ll never really know exactly how much Nancy really liked you, will you?