Thursday Oct 25, 2007

Bottom Of The Band

I have always wanted to play the bass guitar. Gene Simmons from Kiss, Geddy Lee from Rush, John Camp of Renaissance, and of course Chris Squire of Yes (the latter two with their Rickenbacker axes; the former with his axe posing as bass) were my musical heroes. Twenty-seven years ago, I first attempted to learn to play, buying a very low-end Fender jazz bass look-alike with horrible action, uneven frets, and a warped neck (or at least those were my excuses for my lack of ability coupled with fret buzz). It was the week after midterms, the somewhat misplaced "fall break" during my freshman year at Princeton -- this exact upcoming week on the calendar. It wasn't the first time I'd come back to campus with more junk in tow than when I'd left.

My excuse for an amplifier was a "portable" cassette deck with the bass run into the line in, and an 1/8" plug to RCA plug cable going from line out into my stereo amplifier. Unintentional distortion, a little pre-amp control and a touch of Mr. Microphone all at the same time. A year later, partial differential equations and DeMorgan's theorem conspired to consume my practice hours, and I sold the bass to another unsuspecting (and unsuccessful) friend from the radio station. During my entire 4-string career, I learned the bass line to "I'm Free" by the Who and some of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll."

Last year, when I was making up my list of projects in progress for Tim Marsland and Bob Brewin, incoming CTOs of software, I put "learn to play bass" in near the end, just to see if they'd read that far. Brewin asked me a few weeks ago if I ever learned to play, and I couldn't think of a good reason why I hadn't. I can find the time to practice; I have a place to practice and access to reasonable sound reinforcement. So after a few weeks of trolling around on eBay I managed to win one Steinberger-style, Hohner headless bass guitar, suitable for travel, practice in tight quarters, and aging heavy metal wannabes with fat fingers.

It arrived today, and I'm itching to get on the redeye so I can get down and get funky in NJ. Next stop: YYZ.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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