I don't know if I was eleven years old, or twelve years old - there is no possible way that it could matter at all. I started learning to play the guitar at one of those numerical figures representing age in this particular human being. I strummed chords along behind my grandfather as best as I could. I don't know how he could sing, keep time, and stand all of my fumbling around with the fingers on the fretboard, but he did, and that's how I started off on the acoustic guitar.
You always start off with chords - that's just the way that it goes, and that is the way that it should be. If you can't play rhythm, then you have no business playing with other people. What happens if you ignore chord changes is that eventually you turn into what I am now...the guy who is a hermit, lives in a travel trailer, and plays melodies for himself by himself on an acoustic guitar.
But of course everyone wants to play leads - the only exception to this is the people who can either sing, or the few people who can play such an exceptional rhythm guitar that they are known for that, and sought after for it - rhythm is an art form every bit the equal to lead playing - it's just not ever as well represented, and it provides you no spot in the spotlight.
Seems everything and everyone is trying to shine not for the collective, but rather, for the ego - the spotlight, and this is what's wrong with this world.
I've digressed - ego struggling against intent. It never ceases.
The first song that I learned to play lead on - the melody of, and independent of anyone else, vocals, or rhythm, was Wildwood Flower, by The Carter Family.
Now, you might think that you aren't familiar with The Carter Family, but you're wrong about that - you know who they are at least because you know who Johnny Cash was. Johnny Cash was married to June Carter Cash, and her Mother - Maybell Carter originally sang The Wildwood Flower.
And there you have it, June Carter Cash's mother singing "The Wildwood Flower" - it's only one of the most famous songs in the history of these United States in America.
You can't, and you won't find a more familiar song in the US among the educated, the cultured, at least not among the "white folk." Nothing against anyone else - this is just our heritage, and it's not a heritage of hate - it's a heritage of love. This is what we in the South think of when we think of the South, this, and perhaps - chicken fried steak and fried okra - it's things like that, and you Northerners who've not been here are very jaded with your assumptions. You've not been to places like Atlanta, Georgia, or Winston Salem, North Carolina - and you've damned sure not been to Austin, Texas - where San Francisco is considered a conservative city.
You see, the arts transcend any prejudice that the non initiate may hold - the arts are completely about the non dying human soul, the spirit of love, and of growth that the atheist who embraces that fairly land non word, that enigma they call "reason" with no definition - the arts transcend cold biology, and there is more under Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than is found in yon philosophy!
I've digressed again, please and thank you for the ....need to apologize, or what have you. Let's hear more.
The video above is obviously not by a fan of the Carter Family from the Southern US - this shows the trans nationalism appeal of such folk music, obviously, this music was brought here from over seas - no not by the Carter Family, and not the specific tune The Wildwood Flower, but rather, the genre.
I very much like the plays on time, and the variations of the melody that this man in the video up above has provided - what he's really provided, however, is that the boundaries of melody that you might have supposed to have existed ....were in your head. They never existed - everything is interpretation in music.
So go ahead, learn to play The Wildwood Flower, and learn the traditional version first, then expand upon it and make it your own - perhaps your village or your generation will adopt it as their own.
Are you interested in learning a simple version of this old song for guitar? I've got you covered right here:
The above video screamed to be put here due to the song title/ post title, and due to the blog title, and guitar used.