That’s me and my Rogue Mandolin—my mandolin and I. My son took this picture a few weeks ago. I kind of like the fact that my hair is too long for an older man and that I’m wearing a “Late Show” T-shirt. Let’s just say I like the fact I don’t look conventional. Hell, I’ve never been that even when I pretended to me.
I went for over a year without owning a mandolin. I’m not going to get into the reason why, because I don’t feel like it, but for that year, I missed playing it—felt like there was a big void in my life. It was depressing to me.
Some months back, I decided to order a mandolin on EBay—found a brand new one for fifty bucks. I told myself after I got it, I’d order some Martin strings to replace the cheap strings I knew would be on it. Even cheap mandolins sound better with good quality Martin strings—but the strings it came with sounded surprisingly good. I’ll order those Martin strings a bit more down the line.
I practice 15 to 20 minutes. I don’t play any longer than that but I do it every day without fail. I’ve done this now for over two months. A few friends know I’m doing and they ask, “Are you any good?” Those who know my musical history understand my answer and that answer is, “I no longer have to be.”
In case you’re welcoming, yeah—I know quite a few songs. Here are some I know.
I can play both parts to “Dueling Banjos.” I’m kind of proud of that.
I love the old Cole Porter song, “Don’t Fence Me In.” It took me some time to figure it out (I play by ear) but now I’m playing it pretty good.
“He’ll Have to Go,” the old Jim Reeves song, is harder to play than you would think.
I love playing, “Walking After Midnight,” the old Patsy Cline song. I remember playing this on stage with my brothers so many years ago.
That great Merle Haggard song, “Silver Wings” sounds great when I use the “E” and “A” strings only, but it’s hard to make a great song like that sound bad.
Nope, don’t sing the songs, just pick. I sing in the shower now and that’s about it.
If I had to rate myself, on a scale of 1 to 10 as a mandolin picker, I’d give myself a 7, and getting better all the time. I don’t think I’m horrible at all. It’s true that practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m playing for myself and I’m the only one listening to it. My intent is to just keep get it that way.
(I already told you who took the photo)