Snow and the Lessons I Learned From Failure

Snow – Red Hot Chili Peppers

You’ve seen guitar reviews, you’ve read my rant about my podcast, you’ve learned some of my favourite guitarists, and today you can read about one of my favourite songs. To better understand my blog, I suggest clicking on the link above, watching, and then returning to read.

I started listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers shortly after picking up the guitar. Californication, Under the Bridge, and Can’t Stop were three of my top picks because the local radio station seemed to have them on repeat.

One day, long ago in the year of 2006, their album called Stadium Arcadium was released and I had found my bible.

If that record name is new to your ears, or if you’ve never listened to the RHCP, please please please do that NOW!

The album blew me away, and it really showed me what the Chili Peppers were all about. I was just starting to become an avid music fan when I found this band, and to this day they’re on almost all of my rock themed playlists. I warm up to a few certain tracks every day when I begin playing my guitar, and Dani California is one of those warm ups.

On that mystic and amazing album called Stadium Arcadium, there’s a song called Snow. Again, please check it out if you’re ears are new to the Chili Peppers experience. John Frusciante is the guitarist on this album, and he’s also one of the posters (right between Keith Richards and Jimi Hendrix) on my wall of guitar gods in my apartment.

This song took me two full years to learn. I learn most of my songs by ear, without notes or tabs, and this song completely broke me down. I went back to my guitar instructor after quitting lessons seven years ago, for a tutorial on this specific song. Even with the lesson, it took me months to nail the opening riff and then transition to the solo.

I’ve started to write my own songs over the last few years, and as I’ve tried to develop my writing skills to create the sounds I want, it always amazes me to think of how my favourite guitarists like Frusciante or Hendrix created those entrancing sounds using the same instrument as me. How in the hell do you take these sounds from your head and translate them into the frets? And what if your thoughts translate to pure shit when it comes out of the amp? I think these are questions that alot of guitarist have when we start to write, and thank God for my hereditary stubbornness that helps me focus for hours at a time with my guitar in my hands.

If you play guitar, or any instrument, or maybe you’re a snowboarder, or a figure skater, challenge yourself. There’s a comfort zone that we all reach when we put a certain amount of time and focus into a hobby. After a couple years of playing guitar and being able to mimick the radio I started to think, “Hey, I’m getting kinda good!”

Soon after I reached that comfort zone, I hung out with my friend Andy, who is literally addicted to playing the guitar. It’s safe to say, he was much much better than I, and watching him play The Ocean by Led Zeppelin made me think, “Damn, I suck.”

But that’s a great feeling! The thing to remember is that failure is necessary to get better, at anything you do in life. Learning Snow by the Red Hot Chili Peppers took me two full years, but damn it was worth it when I plugged in my Stratocaster expecting the usual noise to leak out, and found that I was playing the song perfectly. The lessons I learned from failing repeatedly on one song taught me that if you’re in a situation or hard place in your life, giving up is the worst thing you can do. If I wouldn’t have tried to keep learning the song that I was slowly starting to resent, I’d be writing a blog post about the time I almost played a song I like, but I got bored and quit. Cool story eh?

Enjoy the weekend, and make sure to challenge yourself this year. Pick up an instrument, start reading more, or work on the great stuff that you already have going on in your life. Giving up will never get you the results that hard work will.

Cheers.

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