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Monday, January 28, 2013

When do you hang up your air guitar?

Played Tres Hombres by ZZ Top on Saturday. It sounded as good as it did in the early 70s, when I first heard it. Back then I shared a flat in Wood Green with a bunch of blokes and one of them had an import copy. He worked an office job and every night when he came home he would fire up his prized Pioneer PL12D and play this. He played it so loud I reckon I can still recognise the pregnant hum and crackle of the stylus on the vinyl in the few seconds before the opening bars of "Waiting For The Bus".

On playing the record the other day I found my right index finger and thumb wielding a non-existent pick while my left hand reached for an invisible neck at round about the point Billy Gibbon would have done on the real one. Some air guitarists favour high notes at the top of the neck. Other prefer windmilling chords. The sound of Tres Hombres is obviously the sound that connects with my inner air guitarist.

It's a while since I played air guitar. It's not seemly when you've got grown-up children. Playing pretend is a huge part of growing up with pop. I used to have a knitting needles and pillows arrangement on the end of my bed in emulation of a drumkit. I collected old tennis rackets of different sizes to serve as guitars. My enjoyment of the music intensified in direct proportion to the extent to which I could pretend I was the one who's making it. Among boys the dawning love for music comes in at the end of their love affair with military hardware. It touches a lot of the same buttons.

I wonder when it wanes and finally dies. Probably when your children reach the age that you run the risk they might happen upon you doing it. They know what you were doing because they've started doing it themselves.