How Does That One Go Again?

I like a good sing-song, it is always a nice way to end an evening. However it would seem that I suffer from a syndrome that can cause memory loss in situations whereby a guitar is placed into my hands. I like to call it Guitar Induced Memory Preventative Syndrome and you may well be a sufferer too. The symptoms present themselves as follows:

  • There is a gathering of fellow human beings.
  • A guitar is placed in your hands and you are asked to sing a song.
  • You can’t remember any songs that you can play.
  • You forget the chords of every songs you have ever played.
  • Or the lyrics.
  • Or both.

Okay, I may be exaggerating a little bit. But it does bother me as I seem to always end up playing the same songs every time as they are the only ones that I am able to tease out of my brain. What’s worse is that I seem to have infected Wanda with this too.

Last year we went to a party and we were asked to bring our guitars along as they were hoping that everyone would have a bit of a sing-song at the end. What we didn’t realise was that we would pretty much be the only people who would play or sing anything and as such, we kind of performed a 2 hour ‘set’. Now I think it is fairly safe to say we don’t really know enough songs together to play for that long and when you combine that with the memory confusions that I described above, the set wasn’t exactly slick. The set list went something like this:

  • Songs that we both knew.
  • Songs that one of us knew and the other could follow along.
  • Songs that one of us knew and the other could quickly be taught.
  • Songs that we weren’t sure of the lyrics to.
  • Songs that we didn’t know all the chords to.
  • Songs that we didn’t know all the way through.
  • Songs that we just simply didn’t know how to play.
  • Songs that we had never heard – also know as requests!

There was certainly a lot of gazing into each other’s eyes that evening, in the hope that we might be able to unlock a memory and suddenly be able to proclaim, ‘Oh yes! I can play Baby One More Time!’ to the delight of only ourselves. There was one point where I fully launched into a song knowing full well that I had no idea what the chords were after the first verse. I was hoping something like this would happen:

Whereas it was actually a little more akin to the ending of this:

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a very musical family. Now that I think about it, I remember that a number of them carry something else in from the car when they arrive somewhere carrying their guitar, a folder. Yes it would seem that my memory problems may become a thing of the past if I, wait for it, write things down! Amazing eh? What will they think of next?

Of course as soon as you start to look around, you notice that everybody is at it. When you see a band such as the Rolling Stones playing those huge stadiums, if you look at the front of the stage you can see that there is a teleprompter with the lyrics of the songs being played scrolling past. Years ago Michael Stipe of R.E.M. came clean that not only did he forget his lyrics on stage, he didn’t even know what some of the early ones were anymore. When he performs now he always has a folder of his lyrics with him:

Michael Stipe with lyric book

So I’m going to get a couple of folders for Wanda and I to fill with all the chords and lyrics of songs that we know. Of course that means that we have to write them all out, but that should be fun.

So the next time a guitar gets handed to me and I am asked to sing a song, I’ll be able to say, ‘Damn, I forgot to bring my folder with me.’


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