Friday, April 26, 2013

Time As Wreckage And Broken Guitar Strings

Back when the Police were very, very hot, some late night TV show broadcast live coverage of some big European music festival. The Police were performing live. In the middle of some song—I don’t even remember which song—Summers was playing one of those beautiful chord-and-melody solos he built his style around and SNAP right there live on television he strummed a chord and one of his guitar strings broke. Instead of getting all shocked or panicked, Andy Summers reacted very cool and professional. And interesting. When the string broke—it was his fifth or sixth string—he just stared at his fretboard and his face got this very cool expression, it was something like amusement, something like a serene, Zen-like amusement. And without missing a beat—literally without missing a beat—he just shifted his left hand three or four frets up the fretboard and continued the chord-and-melody solo playing the exact same chords and notes, but playing them on the middle or bass strings rather than the treble strings. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever seen a performer perform.

A shadow moves under a streetlight
She looks at the brightness next to it
The shape that was casting the shadow
Is a man turning to walk away

When I make up a melody
I play a guitar with a pick,
my left hand fingers like slapstick
falling, tangled, then working free,

performing like a company
of clowns orchestrating a trick
just right, not too slow, not too quick,
with slides and hammers desperately

wrestling down each note and approach
and the song is the mess they make.
There’ll be smiles if their act rings true.

If not, clowns are beyond reproach.
And who cares if guitar strings break—
People who play guitars break, too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Time As Wreckage, Blood As A School Device

The Torn Picture Of A Guitar

A Shattered Chessboard

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