Wednesday, December 2, 2015

There's Always Rock 'n' Roll


Hate to tell you, but there's more to life than just fishin’. There's also rock 'n' roll.

It’s a familiar story. I was going to be a star. Got my start in a local band during the late sixties and early seventies. Rock covers, mostly, with a few heavy jams just for fun. I wasn’t the most competent of musicians, but volume and fuzz (with a modicum of wah-wah) can cover a host of technical inadequacies. Talent aside, I had the look. Long hair, hip-hugging jeans, a carefully cultivated aura of indifference. Most of all, I had the burning desire to stand up on stage and bathe the masses in power chords. Good times.

Too good. My pipe dreams, and the lifestyle that came with them, drowned out my first attempt at higher education like bad feedback. A degree in mathematics couldn’t hold an incense stick to Guitar Godliness so in three quick semesters I was out the university's back door, a coiled cord trailing behind me. No big loss. The only calculus I needed was the derivation of twelve bar progressions and integrations on the five positions of the minor pentatonic. Newton dug the blues.

But the band flamed out in a blaze of personality and the girlfriend became the wife, then the expectant mother of my child, at a pace that was truly terrifying. Adulthood reared its perverse, ugly head. The Strat and the stack were sacrificed on the alter of domesticity, pawned to pay tithe to the working stiff’s holy trinity; Carolina Power and Light, Southern Bell, and the blessed Piggly Wiggly.

Decades passed.

I must admit that I’ve not been completely fretless. Over the years I’ve been bestowed a pair of acoustics, a gift born of love and a bequeathment steeped in sorrow, and I cherish them each dearly for their origins. But I've played them sparingly, all this time, as I have always been more moved by their emotional resonance than their tonal. They've been strung with my heartstrings.

But for all of their unplugged joy, I’ve missed the hot smell of over-driven tubes and the crunch of Jensen paper. I’ve missed low action necks and sustain lasting for days. I’ve missed being coaxially tethered to enough raw power to rattle your bones and pop out your fillings and make your ears bleed. I’ve missed the noise.

So, last week, I wrote off getting that next couple of fly rods and new pair of waders to realize, instead, my neglected Fender fantasies. Beautiful things. Just the boogie-woogie kick in the pants I’ve been craving. Sure, my having this rig is like giving the keys to the Ferrari to Grandma, but goddamn it feels good. It's time to shake the house once again.

Have no fears, fly fishing is still my passion and I'll continue to write of it here for it holds a part of my soul and always will. But something older has retaken my gut and it won’t be set aside, ever again.

‘Cause, Son, even when the fish won't bite, there’s always rock ‘n' roll.

1972-ish

13 comments:

Tbone said...

Sep...funny how you started as "rock star" and became a fly fisher...I was born a fly fisher but wanted to be a "blues man." We need to get that fender together with my harp or my new gheenoe NMZ together with your fly rod. Either way, we can chase away the blues!

Kevin Frank said...

Cool post. I always wanted to play the guitar. The closest I got was rockband the video game.

Jeff Holberg said...

Good one, Mike. Life's just circles, we never can stray far from the roots of our soul!

Matt Smythe said...

I freaking love this. Man, damn.

Mike Sepelak said...

T, how about we do both?

Wherever your skillz fall, Kevin. Go for it.

What goes around, comes around, Jeff.

Thanks Matt. It's always good hearing from you. Your stuff inspires me.

Howard Levett said...

Okay, Mike...which one are you?

Mike Sepelak said...

Lower left, Howard. The one not looking at the camera. Typical.

Ken G said...

There's a certain sadness to this, but at the same time I was laughing. We've all been there on some level.

I've always had a good ear and tried playing back then, but just like typing now, I have to look at my hands. I don't trust what they're doing or where they're going. Ruins the look when you're playing and watching what your fingers are or aren't doing. Probably has something to do with why I wound up in art school.

One cool thing about our age, we tend to start losing our hearing, which means cranking up the amp. How often is the wife giving you stern looks or is she just rolling her eyes?

I guessed lower left. Something about the hair.

Mike Sepelak said...

Mary loves it, Ken. She knows that I've been thinking about this for years and she's 100% behind the madness. A flower child, she was, and always surrounded by music.

She's a peach.

OneBugIsFake said...

I've never played guitar so I didn't understand a lot of words here, however I do know the words Southern Bell and Piggly Wiggly. Especially Piggly Wiggly.

Life in the South, it's great, isn't it?

Mike Sepelak said...

You're absolutely right, Brandon. There's nothing quite like life in the South. It has its share of interesting issues, but there's no place I'd rather be.

Steve Zakur said...

This is how I came back to writing. I didn't have the emotional connection that you do with music, but it was they thing I wanted to do when I was young. I suppose some of what we become is a function of righting wrongs and mending regrets and realizing that the soul doesn't want what we think it needs; it knows it already, all we have to do is listen.

Mike Sepelak said...

Ain't that the truth, Steve. Sometimes the heart knows, but the brain takes over and is never forgiven. With some luck, they reconcile in time. Maybe that's the definition of happiness.