My brother was rummaging through our late dad’s briefcase earlier today. He found an old letter that Dad wrote to me. According to the date, which I have provided, it was written before my first concert with Paul McCartney when I was just seven years old.
As I read it, on Halloween no less, I had a strange feeling that he read my mind from beyond the grave. All my worries and “What if?” questions that have been racing through my head since he passed in 2004 seemed to vanish.
There have been times in my life when I wondered if Dad really wanted me to create music. He didn’t teach me guitar because, according to Mom, he didn’t have the patience. He was a little leery when I asked him if I should buy a Legend of Zelda ocarina or a Game Boy Advance. I went with the GBA, but sometimes I wish I had an ocarina, no matter how annoying it would sometimes sound. Although this letter doesn’t let me see much of Dad the guitar player, it gives me a good look at Dad the musician. I now feel certain that relearning how to play guitar (I started out when I was seven, but didn’t pick it up again until I was nineteen) was something that Dad would wholeheartedly approve of.
In copying this letter, I decided to type everything as it was, bad and strange grammar included. So here it is, a note from Dad:
Before The Concert: A Note From Dad
I’m very excited for you, also that you are going to see Paul McCartney. How ever if I could not go together as a family, and enjoy his beautiful music together, I find myself saying something that, well it’s just hard to say, but the memories of the evening in which your mother (with Jon inside of her) and I saw him several years ago. Well let’s just say they were, at least to me, very private and very special and they were memories I shall never forget…In this way my son please try to understand that without you guys (your mother included) even Paul McCartney is really no big deal to me. “BUT” the best wishes and also may you truely enjoy your very first concert a much as possiable OK…Great choice by the way, concert wise I mean picking the “BEST” to see first time out, “GREAT CHOICE”…I hope Mommy makes it a very very special evening for you that you will never forget. Enjoy music “always,” my beautiful child, because if you are ever wondering, “What did, or do I have in common with “MY FATHER”? Well one thing for sure is “MUSIC”…I love you, and will always love you Andy…Don’t ever think any other way. Maybe you could do what has been working and helping to bridge the many miles which for now separate us, sing a song, or songs, or listen to various tapes & CD’s, and I think you will find how small the world’s problems really are, and you may also find HOPE, LOVE, PEACE and most of all “LOVE” I did and still to this day love to play or just listen to music…However I find many groups and many songs very hard to listen to, they bring back memories of times long ago and so far away. I really enjoy songs of hope of things that could be, or just possibilities type songs. I really love those beautiful “LOVE SONGS” they mean the most to me. So enjoy the concert, I wish I could be there with you guys to see Paul McCartney but things being as they are I can’t, and I’m truley “sorry” about that! Above all always have “fun” while you are listening to his music, I will be right beside in spirit O.K.!!! Love you Dad!
Hey there, it’s TheAndySan here to answer a question that I ask myself everyday: who inspires me to pick up a guitar and play?
Believe it or not, some of my inspiration comes from people who’ve never touched a guitar in their life. People like my mom. Okay, so maybe she’s played a thing or two on guitar, but that’s beside the point. The point is, that I’m inspired by her sticking to her guns when times get tough. She also has a sense of self-worth that was passed onto me. I remember when we were on welfare wayyy back in the day, and although she could have stayed at home and collected the check, she worked her ass off to pay for everything and she managed to go to cosmotology school on top of that! Even though we didn’t have the nicest clothes or the trendiest toys, we never felt beneath other people. We had a strong sense of self-worth and knew that although times were tough, we would get through them and things would get better. And they did.
Of course, I am also inspired by actual guitar players. The most inspirational guitar players from 1-3 are my dad, Paul McCartney, and Marty Friedman. My dad was the reason I got back into playing guitar in the first place. I was always into music in some form or another. I got two Yamaha keyboards from my dad that I always tinkered on. I had guitar lessons when I was 7 and living in Michigan. I began to lose interest because we were playing babyish stuff like Mary Had a Little Lamb and the like. I wanted to play the flute in 5th grade, but I couldn’t afford one so they let me play violin. I was pretty bad at it so it didn’t last very long. In 8th grade music class, I played The Terminator theme for a project. Although the teacher told me to scrap it because I didn’t follow the directions, some of the classmates loved it! I didn’t get back into music again until my dad passed away about 2 months after I graduated high school. In another turn of events, Dimebag Darrell passed away that same year on December 8th (the day after my birthday), the birthday of Marty Friedman and Jim Morrison. At the funeral, one of Dad’s close friends, Rick Barr, asks me if I was in a band and if I’ve inherited any of my dad’s talent and good ears. I honestly couldn’t answer him about the latter, and it planted the seed that maybe I should pick up the guitar again to find out. A couple months later, I learn that one of the new workers at McDonald’s, Travis, plays guitar. After playing his guitar for awhile, he helped me get my own guitar in January of 2005 (I didn’t have my very first guitar at that point so that’s why I needed another one). It was a beat-up Squire Strat with a cable, gigbag, and a small amp for $100.
Paul McCartney has been such a big influence on my dad that Paul’s voice has become familiar and comforting. In a weird sort of way, Paul McCartney has been like a second dad to me. Sure we’ve never met, but when he sings and talks, it feels like he’s singing and talking to me and only me. Paul’s been getting a lot of slag about his albums being mediocre. I think that people expect too much from him. If you’re putting on a Paul McCartney album and expecting it to be Revolver or The White Album, you’ll be let down. That’s not to say his music’s no good. It’s just that you need to lower your expectations a bit to enjoy it. I grew up on albums like Flowers In The Dirt and the double-live album Tripping The Live Fantastic. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I first heard any Beatles songs. Of course I thought they were great, but I didn’t see much different between that and what Paul was doing. Then again, I wasn’t around when The Beatles came to America so I know I would be eating my words if I were around back then.
Marty Friedman, the former guitarist from Megadeth and Cacophony, has been my main inspiration as a player because he plays things that are normally not associated at all with guitar and they sound a-mazing! If you have the time, I highly recommend the following videos:
Marty in Rock Fujiyama Episode #12 (I based a riff around this):
Marty In Rock Fujiyama Episode #23:
Marty in Rock Fujiyama Episode #15:
Marty and Paul Gilbert in Rock Fujiyama Episode #47:
Marty in Rock Fujiyama Episode #22:
Marty in Rock Fujiyama Episode #7:
Marty in Rock Fujiyama episode #4 (I copied what he did to create part of a song called Heavy Metal Waltz):
Wow! I’d better stop posting Marty Friedman videos…for now. Anyway, there are a gazillion other players out there that inspire me. Players like Vince Gill, Gary Moore, Robbie McIntosh (the guitarist for Paul McCartney circa Flowers In The Dirt through Off The Ground), Paul Gilbert, Les Paul (the guy and the guitar), and loads more.
Well, I believe that this post has become redunk-yo-mama-liss long so I’m gonna go eat something before I go to work. Laterz!