I eventually got my first acoustic guitar as my 16 year old birthday present at 新星堂, a Japanese music chain that had a store in Hong Kong – Japanese rock was really popular back then, thanks to the many Japanese tv shows. I drew the John lennon self-portrait this dreadnought-style guitar. I grew up watching the Beatles Anthology – watched them when they were first broadcasted on TV, recorded them, and rewatched them many times. Forward a few years, when I came to the States, I lent this guitar to a friend – we played in the same band back then, and I thought it would be easy to get the guitar back in the future. I never saw it again.
Beyond was a legendary band from Hong Kong, and I spent much time and effort learning songs on their double live album “Beyond 的精彩LIVE&BASIC“. It was a very emotional album, as it was the first live show after the passing of the frontman man, Wong Ka-Kui. I spent a lot of time learing the solo of 太空 and Love. I had the VCDs of the concert, and I just keep rewinding until I got the solos.
(The VCD is a “weaker” version of the DVD – lower resolution, and each disc can only store video of about an hour long. It’s a transitional format between VHS and DVD. I don’t think the VCDs were ever used in the US)
Back then, I didn’t know the opening track of the concert was an arrangement of Stravinsky’s Firebird! Well (I still don’t know about a lot of things)! As I started learning these songs, I quickly realized that there was such a thing as a cutaway guitar, and mine was not a cutaway. It was hard to learn those electric guitar solos.
I picked up many loose melodies and licks here and there. I also learned 愛我別走, and 我的知己在街頭 (now, I would ask my more advanced guitar students to learn the latter). I remember making tabs of 愛我別走 in class. I was improving, and could learn melodies by ear faster. There was also the Japanese arcade game, Guitar Freaks (precursor of Guitar Hero in US). My friends would be playing Happy Man in the game, and I would be playing the same tune on a real guitar. At the time, the most difficult song I was learning at the time was Eric Johnson’s Song for Life.
A friend in 5C and I made a pact – we would go buy electric guitars together to start a band. We went back to 新星堂 on their annual “sale day”, waited in the long line, and bought the cheapest guitars in store. But I actually bought a bass. Yeah, if we start a band, someone had to play bass, right?
My friend ended up not playing his electric guitar much, and I borrowed his electric guitar too. Now I have an acoustic guitar, and electric guitar, a bass, and the J-rock band scores. Naturally, I was learning mores, and really wanted a nice electric guitar. I was a huge fan of X-Japan, and was dreaming about his guitar. I would ended up getting something quite different.
(To be continued in How it at started #7)