Sleepy Sun on Tour: Guitar Dreams — the Chosen Axe
I've bought a lot of guitars in my life. I try to rationalize it by reminding myself that I am, in fact, a "professional musician."
But when it comes down to it, I'm a grown man who can't stop buying grown-man toys (guitars).
It's an endless hole of fun, and there are different things I cherish about each and every axe that I own. This particular guitar is the first electric guitar I ever purchased. As much as I value my other instruments, I can't seem to find one that I like more than the Telecaster.
There's nothing really special about it. It's Mexican-made and it has had only a few minor tweaks (a Bigsby and some new pickups). It's the feel. It's the human-instrument connection we've achieved over years of touring. It's definitely not the coolest guitar in the world, but it's mine and I love it.
But love can be a dangerous thing. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to smash it to bits for falling out of tune or breaking strings (In reality, these are preventable offenses/faults of the player and generally not a weakness of the guitar).
I remember really wanting to crush it at a show we played in Dallas. As I recall, I lifted it up over my head and made the split decision to drop it on its back rather than go full-on Pete Townshend and turn it into electronics, scrap metal and wood chips. In that moment, it would have felt really good to reduce it to its basic elements, but I'm happy I was able to restrain myself from obliterating my favorite guitar.
On another occasion, in the Netherlands, we were playing a legendary venue called Vera Groningen. The list of artists that have graced the stage at Vera is astounding, ranging from Nirvana to Nick Cave and including many of my musical heroes. I was enraptured with the music we were playing that night. Thus, lots of head banging, hip thrusting and warped/guitar shredded facial expressions ensued.
It felt good to be playing my Telecaster on that fabled stage, and I thought we killed it. One of the great things about playing in front of European audiences is their brutal honesty. After the show, a girl came up to me and said in a Dutch accent, "I don't understand. You were so into the music tonight, but you weren't really playing that well at all." I couldn't stop laughing! I told her that I really appreciated her honesty, that my Telecaster and I had tried to put on the best show possible, and that I would try harder next time.
It was a nice reality check for me, and it was eye-opening to be grounded by a Dutch teenager. I'll never be as good as I want to be, even with an amazing instrument in hand, and for this reason, I will never cease to play music.