• Mark J. Keenan

Being bad is good


A few weeks ago, my seventeen-year-old nephew came over with his bass guitar and amplifier. The intent was to have a jam with his uncle (me), who had bought his own bass and amp about a year and a half prior.


The problem was the uncle (yep, still me) had barely picked up the thing since buying it. Even though it hung directly behind his desk where he sat almost every day.


I could barely play a single string without an edgy twanging sound.


He could play whole riffs after only listening to them once.


I couldn't get the fingers on my left hand to move between frets and my right hand kept plucking the wrong string.


His hand just shifted back and forth effortlessly, his fingers moving with ease.


I was so bad at playing it that I didn't pick the guitar up for a couple of days afterwards.


But I couldn't sell it. It's handmade, from recycled timber, by Craig Bloxom (v. Spy v. Spy bassist and vocalist). And I couldn't hide it in the cupboard. It looks too damn awesome hanging behind me.


So, I took it off the wall and had another go. I still sounded terrible, but I knew there was only one way to fix that.


Practice. Persistence. Patience.


And so, I've taken it down almost every day for the past two weeks and spent at least twenty minutes, mostly playing (if that's what I am doing is called) the opening riff to Spies 'Don't Tear It Down'.


Slowly, so slowly, it's getting better. My fingers can stretch further and press the strings harder. And the tune? Well, it's sort of recognisable, in a distorted, off-key, wacky rhythm kind of way.


And I'm enjoying it.


So, my recommendation, for what it's worth, is pick something you are bad at this year, and try and become better. You might succeed. Time will tell for me. But eevn in the worst case scenario, you end up with a beautiful artifact decorating your home, reminding you of the time you were brave, and had a go at something new.