Fistfight With Lethargy

Apr 09, 2021

The room just above me freshman year was home to the fastest typist around. In that antediluvian era, this housemate of mine made a fair amount of ready cash cranking out papers at 120 words per minute, mostly earned sometime between midnight and five AM. In addition to being a quick hand at the Smith Corona, and responsible for my attendance at the one arena show I've ever seen, he had a theory about schoolwork generally: "Have you ever noticed when you get a big assignment done, you need to spend the same amount of time afterwards doing nothing?"

This may be the reason I've been pottering about the studio the last two mornings, moodily staring at my desktop and poking at this and that without any real sense of accomplishment. Corralling one's thoughts sufficiently to present them to the outside world takes a fair bit of doing, and after a couple weeks of said corralling, to introduce more people to the Fingerstyle Five, my brain is about ready for a little Damon Runyon and a whiskey and soda, stressing the whiskey not a little. What it's getting, however, is nothing of the sort. Rather, having more or less established itself in the ideas business, the brain now finds itself called upon to shake off the lethargy, limber up, and set to at the old pedagogical stand without so much as a metaphorical day at the beach. There's always something to work on around here. As a result, there's a bit of workers' strike going on today, organized by the grey cells, spurred on by the caffeine receptors, and aided and abetted by whoever's responsible for reporting the annual cacao intake figures.

Considering at least part of my job involves coughing up strategies for banishing creative lethargy and firing up the practice engine, this is, of course, pretty embarrassing. "Off-brand," even, in the parlance of the 2020s. So far, the best idea I've had this morning has been the ironic notion that maybe I could encourage other people to do the thinking for me. I had a question a couple of weeks ago about how to use fingerstyle technique to play a jump blues groove, and it turned out to make a great lesson idea. There must be more ideas like that out there, my thinking goes, so what if I just invite people to submit their questions about blues, fingerstyle, improvisation and so on and see what happens? Not every question will lend itself to a concise, informative eight minutes of educational derring-do, but surely a plurality of them would.

That, if not exactly a brain storm, is the damp, low-lying mist of an idea hanging about my cerebrum at the moment. In the meantime, here's a way to put a few cool T-Bone Walker-style licks over a jump blues bass line:

T-Bone Walker For Fingerstyle Guitar