If life were like a video game (among other things) you'd be able to see someones musical ability like a health bar. Maybe there'd be a 10 point scale & right next to their head you'd see a little bar- halfway filled up, empty, all full... and you'd know. You'd know if they were someone you could potentially jam with, or someone that would make you want to restrict your playing time to after midnight under the covers where no one can possibly hear or see you because this guy makes you realize that all you're producing in comparison to him is noise- and not even pretty noise.
I went over to my buddys house the other night cause he had another friend there that plays guitar & was interested in havin a little jam session. I'd never met the dude before- and sadly there was no musical ability health bar floating next to his head.
"Play me a song, then I'll take a turn." he says innocently.
I wasn't too nervous- don't know the guy so I'm not worried about impressing him. So I start out with a Dead cover- Sugaree. It seemed to go over well, & he asked to hear an original. Sure! I played Ordinary Bones. Okay dude, your turn!
He decides to play an original. Starts out with a little picking... then he starts to strum & sing. It only took about 5 seconds for me to realize that his musical ability bar was twice as full as mine. When he got done playing, my jaw was hanging open & before I could even speak, he launches into another song. And that song? That song was freaking amazing. The lyrics were so well crafted that I wanted to knock him unconsious in the hopes he'd forget how crappy my song was. It was better than the first one- it was unbelievable- it was.... unfair. Totally, totally unfair.
How was I to know that you were gonna freaking kick ass, huh? And what's with asking me to go first? It's cause you knew I'd never play if I heard you first, isn't it? God damnit. I don't know if I hate getting tricked into playing fist more, or admitting that you're right I never would've played second.
The more casual the invitation, the more likely that person can play circles around you. And then they tend to be really nice about it... which just irks me more. If you were an ass with a huge ego, I would have a valid reason for hating you. Now I just seem petty & jealous.... which, yeah, okay, might be true... but... ;p
So after this dude I was jamming with played his second song... I was ready for some serious alcohol. There was one line from it that had really hit me & I started to tell him how it made me feel, but he cut me off. "Oh, I'm sorry- I didn't mean to confuse you! I guess I should've spoke up in between songs. That first song was an original, but the second was a John Prine tune."
Well, fuck a duck!
Good thing I didn't sneak into the bathroom & slit my wrists over it... I woulda felt reeeeal stupid when I figured it all out.