Brian Larsen's Learning Log

Haha I had completely forgotten I had started a RC on the old forum :roll_eyes:

Brian Larsen’s Road Case, May 16, 2019:

Yay- A whole year (+2 days) on the forum! :wink:

When my son asked for guitar lessons last spring, I decided it was ‘now or never’ if I was ever going to learn, so I bought him an entry level Yamaha C40 classical guitar, with the intention of listening in on his lessons and practicing when the house was empty.

He soon migrated to bass and I came across this website…

Double-Yay! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I’m enough of a realist to know I will never be a virtuoso, but good enough is good enough and that means enjoying yourself (I haven’t quite decided whether improvement is even a necessary factor!)

I’ve had a whale of a time on my journey so far.

I am not nearly as disciplined as I should be if I want to technically progress quickly but can’t help my butterfly-behavior and trying lots of different things along the way.

I have successfully avoided going down the GAS route (I’m a stingy ol’ git). Who knows, I may well succumb like so many before me, but in the meanwhile, I have grown extremely fond of the Yamaha and have decided to personalise it by getting all my local guitarist friends to sign it (as well as any of the great and good I might persuade). Watch this space…

Some highlights along the way:

Writing and sharing my first ‘song’ after six weeks of starting.

Collaborating with Neil (FourTwo) and some good friends at a personally difficult time,

Serenading Justin (on Skype) and Tommy Emmanuel (in person) with self-penned songs- Tengo cojones grandes :sunglasses:

It felt fitting to round off my first year by managing to incorporate the F barre chord into a song (see AVOYP)

I have a feeling barre chords will open up a whole new horizon on the song front, (although am possibly a bit sad that the rate of progress will seem slower as time progresses).

This site is a treasure trove of information for anyone wanting to learn how to play guitar, but the forum members and moderators are the fuel that drive us on in my opinion.

Thank you all.

Yours… in rock :metal:

The following is a list of all the ‘pearls’ I’ve shared on the forum in chronological order, starting from 6 weeks after picking up the guitar. It’s mostly an aide-memoir for me and there are a fair few ‘howlers’ amongst it. Some of the regulars might remember the odd contribution with a smile.

I’m a musical magpie (like all the greats) and have a penchant for stealing wholesale tunes and/or lyrics, making slight alterations and passing them off as originals. (I do try to credit the original artists where possible)

I’ve marked these originals or modifieds with an asterisk *

I’ve joined in all the open mics to date bar one. The desparate can find them in that category, but I’ll include two of them here, as I have no versions of these songs myself.

*DEAD DEAD - YouTube

*Sunufatarungo - YouTube

*Beelzebub’s Bells - YouTube

*Just a Minute, Justin Just a Minute, Justin - YouTube

Wish you were here - YouTube

Chocolate Jesus - YouTube

Mad World - YouTube

*Killing You Softly Killing You Softly - YouTube

Church of Level Track - YouTube

*The Forum Stream The Forum by User 562765097 | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Hurt Hurt (cover) - YouTube

*Beelzebub’s Bells revisited Beelzebub's Bells 2 - YouTube

The Sound of Silence Stream The Sound Of Silence (cover) by User 562765097 | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

The River - YouTube

*Summer Song Summer Song (original) - YouTube

You are my Sunshine - YouTube

*Genesis 18-19 (original) Genesis 18-19 (original) - YouTube

Self Esteem Self esteem (cover) - YouTube

*19 Things 19 Things - YouTube

5 Years 5 Years - Bowie cover - YouTube

*Rien ne va plus Rien ne va plus- (original) - YouTube

Weightless Again Weightless Again (cover) - YouTube

Hotel California (removed by legal eagles)

Church of Level Track (revisited) Church of Level Track (revisited) - YouTube

*Dead Flag Blues (improv) The Dead Flag Blues (improv) - YouTube

Challenge 0013 - Jam Stream Smooth Underground Chill (improv) by User 562765097 | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

*The Covid 19 Blues The Covid 19 Blues - YouTube

*Covid 19 Blues (Judas Mix) Covid 19 Blues (Judas Mix) - YouTube

Sing Sing (cover) - YouTube

*Guitar Challenge 0020 – Jam Vincent Blues - YouTube

Your Ghost Your Ghost (cover) - YouTube

*Brian’s Brown Bread (the Soda Mix) Brian's Brown Bread (the soda mix) - YouTube

Space Oddity Space Oddity (cover) - YouTube

The Vanishing Mind The Vanishing Mind- Calexico (cover) - YouTube

Stop That train Stop That train - Clint Eastwood & General Saint (cover) - YouTube

All the Madmen All The Madmen- Bowie (cover) - YouTube

Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone- The Arlenes (cover) - YouTube

Electric City- Firewater Electric City- Firewater cover - YouTube

*Homeless Homeless - YouTube

Electric Electric City (electric) Electric City - Firewater (cover) - YouTube

Clandestino Clandestino- Manu Chao (cover) - YouTube

Pillar of Davidson Pillar of Davidson- Live (cover) - YouTube

*Homeless (Lipstick-on-a-pig-mix) Stream Homeless (original) by User 562765097 | Listen online for free on SoundCloud

Acts of Man Acts Of Man- Midlake (cover) - YouTube

Get Myself Arrested Get Myself Arrested- Gomez (cover) - YouTube

Overpass Overpass- The Lonelyhearts (cover) - YouTube

Gold Nuggets Gold Nuggets- Pavlov's Dog (cover) - YouTube

Who Built the Road Who Built the Road- Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell (cover) - YouTube

Blackjack County Chains Blackjack County Chain (cover) - YouTube

My Ghost My Ghost - YouTube

The January Man (In memory of Hilts17) The January Man- Dave Goulder (cover) - YouTube

*Happy Birthday, Grampa John


My Pillow Is The Threshold

Spirits In The Night

The River revisited

*Watt (delayed)

Happy Birthday, David!

*Goodbye Emily Lang

*Adult TV

The Vanishing Mind (revisited)

Suffice To Say

Messes of Men

*Fool’s Gold (improv)

*Ukelele Anthem

*19 Things

Vision Thing

*Strange Love

Open mics

*The Forum

Nothing Really Ends

Messes of Men

Fuck The Government, I Love You


Christmas competition 2018:

*The Last Snowflake (Neil Clemens/FourTwo, Chris Goldring)

Friends & family:

New Virginia

Lars Jännes-Larsen, Chris Goldring, Niels Larsen, Hans Larsen, Tor Larsen,

Summer Wine

Ann Larsen, Lars Jännes-Larsen, Chris Goldring, Niels Larsen, Hans Larsen, Tor Larsen,

*Beelzebub’s Bells (Styx-mix)

Lars Jännes-Larsen, Chris Goldring, Niels Larsen, Eithne Costello


*Thank You Very Much, Justin! (Giant forum crew)

*The Circus is in Town (Brianlarsen/Close2u)

*The Circus is in Town ( Roman Mix)

Song after the funeral of a friend

The January Man

1-to-1 with Justin

The following is my account of a lesson I won with Justin as a prize for taking part in a Christmas competition in my first year. It captures the enthusiasm for my new-found hobby quite well and, as I re-read it two years later, I find not much has changed:

When I was a nine-year-old boy in Beirut, I recall being transported to another world, reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I loved chocolate (still my favourite food) and Roald Dahl tells a riveting yarn. At about the same time I received the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper which opened a wormhole to yet another universe for me.

When I came across Justin’s website nearly a year ago, I felt like I had discovered a secret doorway into the chocolate factory of how music is made. I’ve been running around the factory ever since, flitting from room to room, sniffing different chords, having a taste of this strumming or that picking, as well as leafing through some of the recipe books of music theory.

I even had a go at making some chocolatey music inventions myself, which some of you have kindly tasted.

You can imagine my surprise and excitement when one of the chief Oompa Loompas (sorry Richard :P) informed me that I had received a Christmas present of a GOLDEN TICKET to meet Willy Wonka himself- a Skype session!

What would I like to ask the great man?

Only having commenced my journey, I am painfully aware of what I need to work on; and between the excellent lessons and helpful forum, I had serious difficulty thinking of what I wanted to ask Justin that I didn’t know already, or at least know where to find it.

For me, the answer to most questions lies behind that door named ‘Practice’.

Out of respect for him as a teacher, I did prepare some questions/areas to go over. But as in the above book, it’s all about the relationships. I wanted to meet this man, thank him for the enjoyment he has brought me and if I’m honest, feel like he got to know me. (Self-centred yes, but there you go)

The lesson began by me serenading him with a slight re-write of one of my previous competition entries, ‘Just a minute Justin’ (now ‘just an hour’), to give him a general idea of my playing abilities.

We then had a longish session of general chit-chat about his recent ski-holiday and I gave him a bit of my background, explaining how I ended up learning late in life. Lots of fan-boy praise from my side.

I think he was a bit taken aback when I told him about my brother having a heart attack just as I was launching into the Christmas competition and how helpful I found having an enjoyable distraction at an emotional time. He was half-expecting a funny punchline- not a personal story ending in death, so maybe I over-shared there…

We moved on to discussing how to go about writing simple fingerpicking style for songs. He noticed I had drifted off the alternate base plucking, which he stressed was of utmost importance. I hadn’t realised the thumb takes care of all three lower strings so the other fingers don’t have to shift.

We talked about the minor pentatonic scale and how it relates to major scales. He talked about using notes like words and putting them together in licks to make sense to others.

He suggested it was time for me to move on to barre chords (which I have just recently started practicing).

He seemed happy enough with what I was doing. I find my index finger often protrudes way beyond the fretboard, but he was less concerned with what it looked like as long as the sound was clean.

I wasn’t sure the A-shape barre chord was for acoustic guitar, but he assured me again- just more practice.

We finished up talking about two Aussie gigs I’m going to in the coming months: Nick Cave in Liverpool in June and Tommy Emmanuel in Manchester at the end of March. I told him I’m thinking of bringing my guitar with me to see if I can get it signed by Tommy. If I’m not going down the GAS route yet, I might just pimp my current 6-string.

Are you still here?

Well, in summary: Believe the hype. Justin is a really engaging, sound and chilled dude.

Even if he thinks I’m a plonker- mission accomplished:

Mr. Wonka is aware of this plonker now!

Thank you all

(p.s. In playing terms, I had already benefited immensely before the lesson, as I had been practicing much more to reduce embarrassment levels. See- practice! ;))


Good stuff. I hope you enjoy seeing Tommy Emmanuel. I’ve seen him live at least three times, possibly four. The first time was at a place called the Beenleigh Rum Distillery and he started his set with a handful of songs on the electric guitar.

I went to see him because others had raved about him (This was in the early 90s) and while he was good on the electric, I didn’t really see what the fuss was about.

Then he pulled out the acoustic and I was captivated and quickly became a huge fan.

Epic - I had lost track of how many songs and how much else you’ve uploaded.

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Learn songs someone said :roll_eyes:
… funny, I couldn’t play one of them right through without a chord/lyric sheet :rofl:

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Haha, that entry was from 2 years ago.
I saw him, serenaded him with a song I wrote before the gig and got him to sign my guitar.
I think I have pics somewhere :smiley:

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That’s fantastic. He’s such an engaging entertainer.

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Super RC Brian. What a terrific catalogue of performances you’ve built up. Clearly eating chocolate is the secret! You’ll need to share the secret of the door to the chocolate factory with the rest of us.

My son and I have tickets to see Tommy Emmanuel in March next year (postponed from March this year, hope it doesn’t end up being postponed again).

I enjoyed reading about your lesson with Justin. Yes, next to the door marked ‘chocolate’ there is one marked ‘practice’. Now where is that sat nav.

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Delightful to re-read and remember, Brian, so many good memories.

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Oh Mr Larsen how great it is to read this again. Always entertaining and engaging so glad you migrated this wonderful tale. And the back catalogue is impressive, its amazing how you see songs coming and going, forgetting how much folks have contributed. Chappeau Brain ! :sunglasses:

Brian Brain

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A diverse, witty, thought provoking, amusing outpouring of richness and all things good that often goes beyond the musical.

Thankyou Brian Larsen for being part of the mob.

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Ah… heartwarming to see the best of the old forum lovingly distilled into this fine vessel.

That sounds more like a decription of ‘the mob’ than me, but I’ll gladly take it :smiley:


Scenes from our seasonal crib relating to the ‘log’ situation :smiley:


I just discovered your learning log. Cool stuff. That’s a nice roster of tracks you’ve recorded. Lot’s of gold in there.

My wife is amazed that I suddenly have a youtube channel … they watch and laugh hard at your comment … so I say, just look at his head, see if you still smile … so I click Major Tom to … she says, what a nice singing voice he has … and a friendly head … potjandrie
What a huge amount is here by the way… cool

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I enjoyed going through some of your songs, I.e., Hurt, The River, The Sound of Silence…. A couple others were Private - too bad. Your Skype with the Willy Wonka himself- how entertaining!

your wife sounds like a lovely person with questionable tastes :rofl:
Not even Google translate helps me with the ptjandrie…
I went through an enthusiastic phase of uploading every new song I tried to learn. I’m still enthusiastic, but have not been learning that many recently :unamused:
One of my missions in life is to introduce others to my exquisite taste in music.
Seeing as they are on your doorstep, do you have any explanation why these guys are not more popular?
You’re welcome :smiley:
The Bullfight

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Thank you Pam, that’s very thoughtful :slightly_smiling_face:
The rare times I go back and have a listen again, I invariably find something good as well as areas I would treat very differently.
I was quite happy with the chocolate factory analogy on multiple levels, and a lot of it still holds true.
Man, I love chocolate :smiley:
Hope you’re keeping well. Take care x

:thinking:…potjandorie is like …oh… beware ,or thinking, or many more…it can also be a very nice way to say “damn”
Love the song in the morning with some tea :grin:

… and who of us would dare to disagree :smiling_imp:

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Potjandorie! I thought you would be extinct by now, Maggie :wink:
There’s only one click on that link and @roger_holland said he enjoyed it. I’m boycotting any septuagenarian productions until all impish behaviour ceases and I start receiving due respect. Go listen :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

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