I try to hang out with my guitar a little bit every day because nothing really takes your mind off shit like noodling around on the strings until your fingertips are numb. I put a lot of work into writing my own material, but no matter how much time and energy I expend on creating my own stuff, the songs I always end up coming back to and playing over and over again were written by other people. I’m hardly a musician, but I guess I do have a little bit of a knack for deconstructing punk rock songs down to their bare bones — that’s what I do in Cunt Sparrer, and it’s what I’ve been doing lately when I get frustrated with my inability to come up with my own tunes.
So, for lack of anything else to post about, here are a couple of my super-rudimentary punk rock covers, which I record periodically and upload to my Youtube account, saraplayspunksongs:
“All This & More” (with apologies to the Dead Boys):
“Adult Books” (with apologies to X):
“Don’t Mess With Cupid” (with apologies to the New York Dolls):
As you can probably tell, I can only play a handful of chords, but I make do with what I got. And what I got (as one of my original songs says) has got me to the gettin’ place.
My buddy Kevin Seconds liked my New York Dolls cover enough to ask if I want to record it and include it on a new comp he’s putting out for his upcoming Arms Aloft Musical Roadshow tour, so that’s pretty cool. (Actually, it’s really cool…like, a-little-bit-beside-myself cool. I’ve known Kevin for a couple of years now and he’s watched me make a complete drunken fool of myself in more than one southwestern state, but I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over being able to collaborate with someone who has been a huge icon to me for, like, my entire punk rock career.)
A comment I hear pretty often from girls, both here on this blog and out at my shows, is that they’d like to be playing music but they think it’s “too late” to learn or that they don’t have the innate ability they think is necessary to get the hang of an instrument. I really get this. I used to feel like this too. I didn’t start teaching myself to play guitar until I was 20, and I was almost 25 by the time that Cunt Sparrer started performing. I still don’t feel like I have much more musical skill than I did back on the day I took my old Daisy Rock acoustic out of the packaging, but the point is that over the years I’ve managed, somehow, to fake it. Listen — I really don’t have any illusions about my talent or lack thereof, but I used to not know how to strum a lick, and now I can get a guitar to do pretty much what I want it to do. And it feels good!
It’ll probably be several more years (if ever) before I stop correcting people when they refer to me as a musician, but I’m at least starting to get used to the idea that talent is what you make of it. There are detractors — there will always be detractors! — but having the confidence to put your shit out there is seriously way more than half the battle, and you never know, it could end up dumping some cool opportunities in your lap.
I think it would be cool to hear from female musicians (and aspiring female musicians!) in the comments. What are you guys doing and playing and creating and covering and recording? What projects do you have in mind for the future? Show and tell!