About a month ago I decided that I needed to learn to play, “Still You Turn Me On”, by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Not the studio version, but as played in a decades old live solo performance by Greg Lake. While he was a phenomenal vocalist, the guitar can stand up beautifully on its own.
It’s quite tricky. I watched it on YouTube over and over and over again. It took me hours over the course of a week or so just to write out 3 ½ pages of tabs while continually going back to the video to verify what I was writing down. I count 23 different chords plus hammer ons and pull offs. And, it’s in Drop D tuning which made many of the chord shapes unfamiliar to me.
After three weeks of trying, can I play it yet? Absolutely, erratically at about 10% speed. And I have it memorized, so at least I don’t have to stare at the tabs.
I like the song too much and I’ve put too much work into it to give up, but I’m going to have to take a break from it for a while. Hopefully when I come back to it something magical will happen.
I’m going to hop on Fred my unicorn and head off to dinner.
I can sympathise! I’m always getting in over my head with guitar. The songs that I like the most, and the guitarists I most admire, it is not the kind of stuff a beginner can expect to play.
Sometimes you have to follow what you’re passionate about and attempt those songs anyway … and then sometimes you have to acknowledge reality and take a break
Might be worth slotting in some time to drill One Minute Changes / Perfect Fast Changes on some of the chord changes from your Dreamer song while you take that break. That way, when you do come back to it, you’ll have more muscle memory to back up your attempt. Although the fact that it’s in an alternate tuning does make that less convenient.
And that’s a good place to start Greg, especially if you have it memorised. Iron out the kinks and then slowly work on bringing the tempo up and you’ll get there. And no harm in taking a break from it and returning.
You’ve got it. Some people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. He could play guitar and sing while chewing gum! Sadly, he didn’t play it the same or as well later in life. Of course, I’m about the age he was in 2012.
We are also drawn to complex songs because we want to already be good at guitar. Settling for the simple and more boring versions doesn’t suit our ambition, even if it is probably a good idea.
I think that is why Justin recommends a dreamer song, to keep us pushing, but he recommends others to build skills.
My trap, I keep falling into, is that I spend too much time on the dreamer song, at the expense of other practice. Not sure how to reconcile this.
Also, with a dreamer song like this, maybe work on a few bars at a time. You may be able to memorize the whole thing, and even play it through at 10% speed, but only do that once in a practice session and work on getting 1 to 4 bars down at a time. Not perfect and to speed, necessarily, just small chunks. Then move to the next chunk. I think it is also good to include the first notes or two of the next chunk in a given chunk so you know it moves on.