Rock 'n' Roll for Dummies

Recently exhumed ancient handbook reveals the secrets to playing music and staying happy

If you're like almost all kids today you really dig contemporary music. Rock, Country Rock, Jug Band Music, etc. Some people also really love to sing. Nothing is more fun than to be at a party or a dance and know some of the people in the group that's playing. It makes you feel you belong.

Being able to do something with your friends, that is part of the now scene, and being paid for it isn't half bad either."

In our quest for seven-figure record deals, we've forgotten that without friends to impress, the now scene is the nowhere scene! With Kurt Cobain stuck as the rock role model for most kids these days, it's hard to imagine that playing music makes you "feel you belong." The next time you hear the singer of some new, life-loathin' band whining onstage about how no one loves him, you owe it to yourself to shout back at him, "Why aren't you having fun like Joan Baez?" That'll spook 'em!

Rock 'n' roll primer: Are your parents open to some "heavier" talk?
Rock 'n' roll primer: Are your parents open to some "heavier" talk?

Gary even tackles this ticklish situation: What if your friends are so impressed with your group that they want to join but possess no discernible talent!? To that Gary says: "Don't count them out, you can get them to help with equipment. Keep them around." Guess you can't be above turning friends into mindless roadies if you want to make it as a pro in the biz. Just promise them your groupie-gropin' sloppy seconds and they'll lug chamber organs if need be. I've even seen girlfriends carting their little drummer boy's six-piece Ludwig set across Mill Avenue while Ringo's at the bar getting a drink. That's a subject for another book: Users and the Useful Women Who Love Them.

I would seriously caution those readers who are worried about their indie cred to skip over the next installment: "PARENTS!"

Gary And believes the key to a successful band is getting parental interest. Parental involvement certainly didn't help Marvin Gaye, but you must remind yourself that Marvin was a solo artist. Let's give Gary the floor:

If your parents are open to some heavier talk, you can get into how self-independence and ego develop through such group involvements and that one of the underlying processes of art is expression. This is a far-out comparison, but you can tell them that "the Stones" are as valid an expression of contemporary music as Lawrence Welk is to them, but don't deliver that one until you're sure they are open and listening.

Beware Gary's next bombshell . . .

The Rock musician's place in society, one of the largest industries in America, the world, is the music business. These people -- even if they have some unusual clothing and hair-styles -- are producing gigantic sources of income for millions of people and therefore are, in their own way, very much part of the Establishment -- though some of them still won't admit it.

Now that mom and dad are like putty in your hands, convince them that as a member of the new Establishment, you need money for a new public address system (one that produces "an undistorted vocal sound," recommends Gary) and persuade them to let you have a party at your house so the new group has a chance to try out.

Here are some more of Gary And's handy tips:


"You've got to know what instrument you want to play. Instruments can be expensive," so And urges you to "borrow a friend's guitar and try it out to see if you are really going to dig it." If economics are a deciding factor in finding an instrument, "old large bottles can even be used as whistles by blowing across their tops, as practiced by a number of 'Jug Bands' as they are called." Gary really pushes Jug Band music several times in this book, possibly an inside clue as to the well from which he sprung.

If that equipment-loading hassle is stopping you from being a musician, remember, "you don't want an amplifier larger than you can reasonably carry around." If you've ever carted a twin-head bass amp up a flight of stairs, Jug Band music starts sounding really good.


Remember the old joke about the lost New Yorker who asks, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" Ah, well, the title of this section neatly provides us the very punch line for that chortlin' chestnut. But don't worry, the laughs do not subside there. Once again, heeere's Gary!

Talent and equipment are the only ingredients for fun and success. Talent and equipment are also the only ingredients necessary for having sex by yourself, according to Dr. Ruth. Yes, practice does make perfect, and even in privacy of the boudoir, a few dry runs couldn't hurt. Yet back to the problem at hand. Gary cites two problems when practicing MUSIC -- "transportation" and "Noise" with a capitol N.

His solutions?

The transportation can be easily solved if you get a driver whose parents have a large station wagon. Yes, and wood paneling will ensure that you make lots of friends as you tour the heartland!

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