• Remembering how I once thought Itzhak Perlman outrocked Eddie. Still do.
The other day I wrote a post about walking with my Catherine, my Dad, and the babies down a lane on where a cottage still stands in which I used to take guitar lessons. I could remember some facts about my teacher but not much and then out of the blue he sends me an email saying he’d seed the post and was glad that music was still a part of my life. It’s still a part of his, too, as it should be. Because here’s what I remember now about Tom on Tersch. He might have taught me folk songs but his true passion was classical and every now and then he would play me something from his repertoire and I just remember being slack jawed. I could not imagine being able to play like that. I remember telling my heavy metal friends about Tom and they all nodded in approval. Classical was held in high regard by those of the metal faith, and I even remember one conversation the led into a discussion of Itzhak Perlman vs. Eddie Van Halen and we all agreed that Perlman rocked harder. But back to Tom. He could play a bass line and a melody at the same time. This was mind bending. I mean, people talked about how Hendrix could do it but even Hendrix would agree that he as an amateur compared to Tom. Then there was the fingerpicking technique. Tom used all four and with equal dexterity, as his thumb worked the low notes. And don’t even get me started on the left hand stretches, they looked like medical emergencies. I remember thinking that there was just no way I was ever going to be able to play like that. And read music? Forget it. I just did not have it in me, I was sure of that. Truth be told, Tom probably felt the same way but he never let on. He was always patient and encouraging as I muddled my way through my lessons. In thinking back on all this I’m trying to remember exactly why I quit taking lessons from Tom and I think it was Deep Purple’s fault. Try as Tom might to get me interested in fingerpicking, folk and classical, it just wasn’t working. Probably like trying to teach a fish how to breathe air. And so on the day I asked him to show me how to play a barre chord so I could learn Smoke On the Water and then all I did was practice Smoke on the Water all the damn time and every other exercise on the guitar felt even more like a chore, I knew the time had come. It was going to be rockstardom for me or bust. And I have not given up yet.