30 Day Song Challenge #26: A Song That You Can Play On An Instrument

[Day 26: A Song That You Can Play On An Instrument]

Mason Williams – Classical Gas

I have an interesting history (of failure) when it comes to musical instruments. I was forced to learn recorder in primary school like a lot of people, but my skills always remained somewhat specialised in playing Hot Cross Buns. I then attempted to learn a band instrument, however didn’t score well in the application test and so was presented with an option:¬†clarinet, or nothing. I was desperate to play an instrument so I chose the former and stuck with it for a couple of years, however I never really enjoyed it.

A few years later and I tried my hand at learning the flute, figuring that my mad clarinet skills would be somewhat transferable and that it would be a more enjoyable to play. And I did quite enjoy it for a while, however stopped playing just as I was on the verge of actually being alright, after three or four years. So I was left having learned three instruments and being unable to effectively play any of them.

But then I picked up a guitar for the first time, and was determined to stick with it this time. I really got into it, playing pretty much every day for the better part of two years. But then I felt I wasn’t really getting anywhere in my lessons and would be better served just teaching myself, which was probably a mistake. Once again I just had a gradual falling out with the instrument, playing it less and less and caring about it less and less. I still play my guitar every now and then, but it’s only to reprise songs I’ve already learned rather than to learn new stuff (and I still fucking hate bar chords).

It’s interesting then that easily the hardest song I learned on guitar is the one that has stuck with me most: Mason Williams’ brilliant Classical Gas. To this day I still think it is the greatest guitar piece ever written, and back in the day I was absolutely determined to learn it. I obviously didn’t have the skill needed to play it yet, so my time was spent literally rope learning every single note. It took forever, but I could see that I was making progress and so stuck to it.

In the end, I learned the song up until about the one minute mark of the video pretty much up to speed. This was a huge achievement for me, and after the effort and time I put in it’s perhaps little surprise that how to play the song is now burned into my subconscious. I can’t for the life of me play the song slowly, because that means thinking about every note- instead I need to play it up to speed and just let my memory take over. It remains one of my goals in life to learn the song in its¬†entirety, however that might have to wait until I have more spare time.

And I can also play the Starlight riff on piano. Awwwww yeah.

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