I had the joy of doing a concert last weekend. It was an outdoor concert with room for distancing.
How I have missed that during these strange days of separation. I have been a music lover as long as I can remember and a musician for most of my life. I have no formal training in music other than a few singing school classes and a couple of music classes in college and seminary. I attended singing schools a couple of times as a child and learned to sing shaped notes or sacred harp.
Unfortunately, I did not stick with it and now I don’t know fa from la!
I never took any instrument lessons other than a few secondhand lessons from a childhood friend. He took lessons and then passed on to me what he had learned. I told someone once that I had never had a music lesson in my life. He grinned and said, “I can tell.”
I bought a Mel Bay guitar-chord book and began learning chords. I had a portable record player. I had so much fun listening to records on that thing. It had four speeds: 18, 33, 45 and 78. Singles were played on 45 and albums on 33.
For humorous entertainment, I sometimes listened to both on 78. This was especially funny when listening to the rock singers who occasionally let out a little scream. I used to put on my favorite record, pick up my guitar and try to play along with the record.
I tried every chord I could play until I found some that sounded like what I was hearing on the record.
I had no idea that songs were played in different keys or that certain chords were found in particular keys. I just knew when the sound matched. Then I tried to figure out the lyrics. I would listen to a phrase, lift the arm, and write it down. I repeated that process until I had all the lyrics, or at least what I thought they were saying.
Sometimes this proved to be far harder than figuring out the guitar chords and I didn’t always get hem exactly right. The Beatles were singing, “I want to hold your hand,” not “I want to hold your ham!”
Others have said they thought The Fifth Dimension was singing “This is the dawning of the age of asparagus!” Some thought Starship was singing “We built this city on sausage rolls,” rather than “We built this city on rock and roll.” The Monkees sang, “Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer,” and not, “now I’m gonna leave her.”
Of course, a simple solution to this problem was buying sheet music but that posed several problems.
Finding sheet music was one problem and finding the songs I wanted on sheet music was another. Much of it was written for piano and had no guitar chords. The biggest problem may have been that sheet music cost money and I had a limited budget.
Okay, I had no budget because I spent it on records. These days things are so much easier. We have the internet. You can even take lessons online...some for free!
Most any song you can think of has been put online with the chords and lyrics...the correct ones.
This reminds me of Scriptures I hear people quote, or misquote, sometimes. Some of those quotes make no sense.
Sometimes that is because they leave out vital words or add words. Some quote Bible verses that aren’t even actually found in the Bible. The best route is to go straight to the source...the Bible.
By the way, you can find the Bible online too.
—Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.