How does anyone get into music? It usually starts with their parents. Mine were of the hippie-ish persuasion (meaning they smoked weed in their past but still ended up with a mortgage) and our house was endlessly pumping tunes from the 60's and beyond from class acts, like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Radiohead, Oasis and more.
So I was always going to love music because it was the culture I was raised on but becoming an acoustic guitarist followed a string of failed endeavors. Like most kids I tried my hand at a lot of hobbies and after-school activities. The list includes:
And other stuff that you won't get the reference to if you didn't grow up in the South West of the UK.
One day, my parents had taken me shopping in the inglorious town of Swindon, where they were, as usual, exploring the biggest amount of charity shops humanly possible. My mum would be looking for what can only be described as "any old tat", whilst my dad's search was far more focused. He would flip through literally 1000's of CDs in the quest for 2 things:
1) Something he had "heard good things about", usually from the NME or Uncut magazine.
2) A bargain.
Sometimes a 4-hour "chazza shop" binge would yield nothing but blistered hands and a broken spirit. Whilst others would result in my dad's backpack being loaded with dozens of albums, all of which would get his full and undivided attention as he sat in his living room chair, smoked a cigarette, and played it from beginning to end with meticulous attention.
During one such session in the Swindon Cash Converters, I spotted a green Crafter, semi-acoustic guitar hanging on the wall. It wasn't the most expensive acoustic guitar in the shop, but damn I wanted to play it. Lingering by the guitars for about 45 minutes, my dad finally made it to a section of the CDs where I could catch his eye in a hopeful bid to employ some miraculous mind-altering technique which would break his decades-in-the-making penny-pinching...no such luck. If there were two things my dad would not do they were:
1) Give in to any kind of pressure or bullying.
2) Spend money if he didn't really need to and/or wasn't getting a damn good deal.
Fortunately, my mum, who had only just caught up with us from another charity shop which she had unburdened of it's clutter, came in and almost instantly asked me where dad was. After telling her and then going back to stare at the Crafter, she sensed something was afoot. Needless to say, not long later I was walking down Swindon high street carrying my first, of many, guitars.
My dad, £120 lighter than he would have liked, gave me a biting yet important jibe. He said that the guitar would probably end up under the bed, along with all the other hobby paraphernalia. This comment, instead of hurting me to my core, lit a fire under my ass...
Come back soon for Part 2 of how I became an acoustic singer in the UK.
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