THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GUITAR PLAYING as given to moris tepper by captain beefheart. they are not arranged hierarchically - each commandment has equal import. also, to help clarify their intent, each commandment is followed by an exegesis.LISTEN TO THE BIRDSthat's where all the music comes from. birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. and watch humming-birds. they fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITARyour guitar is a divining rod. use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. a guitar is also a fishing rod. if you're good, you'll land a big one.PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSHwait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. if the bush doesn't shake, eat another piece of bread.WALK WITH THE DEVILold delta blues players referred to amplifiers as 'the devil box'. and they were right. you have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. electricity attracts devils and demons. [so now you know what you are, dear visitor of this page!] other instruments attract other spirits. an acoustic guitar attracts caspar, the ghost. a mandolin attracts wendy. but an electric guitar attracts beelzebub.IF YOU'RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU'RE OUTif your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. you should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. if you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONEyour instrument has more clout than lightning. just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. but make sure you are not standing in an open field.ALWAYS CARRY A CHURCH KEYthat's your key-man clause. like one string sam. he's one! he was a detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. his song "i need a hundred dollars" is warm pie. another key to the church is hubert sumlin, howlin' wolf's guitar player. he just stands there like the statue of liberty - making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.DON'T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENTyou need that stink on there. then you have to get that stink onto your music.KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACEwhen you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. if you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINEkeep that hat on. a hat is a pressure cooker. if you have a roof on your house, the hot air can't escape. even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.
"He was like the scout on a wagon train. He was the one who goes ahead and shows the way. He was a demanding bandleader, a transcendental composer (with emphasis on the dental), up there with Ornette [Coleman], Sun Ra and Miles [Davis]. He drew in the air with a burnt stick. He described the indescribable. He's an underground stream and a big yellow blimp. "I will miss talking to him on the phone. We would describe what we saw out of our windows. He was a rememberer. He was the only one who thought to bring matches. He's the alpha and the omega. The high water mark. He's gone and he won't be back."
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