The Accidental Steel Guitarist

I got to be a steel guitar by accident. I played guitar in rock bands in high school and had a lot fun, but I wasn’t a particularly good player, and I knew what a dicey career music was, and I never planned on becoming a professional musician. When I graduated from college I bought a steel guitar just because I liked the sound of it, and I figured after a few years I might be good enough to play a VFW on weekends, but I enjoyed it so much that I found that I didn’t have a problem sitting alone in my room for hours at a time practicing, and I just picked up on it and was able to get jobs in bands and get paid for it and I was playing full time and making a living in a few months. At the time there were a lot of places to play, and I was kind of easygoing and didn’t get drunk or start any shit with band leaders or club owners. It was just so fucking easy, and there were parties, girls, free booze and other perks that go with being a musician. I decided I didn’t want a regular job.

I did go on one job interview when I got out of school, waving my diploma and my portfolio, but I didn’t get the job. Hell, I wouldn’t have liked it, anyway. Wearing a suit and having a department manager peeking over my shoulder didn’t seem like any fun.

I’m basically a lazy sumbitch and I took the easy road. Whenever I needed a gig I just hung out, sat in, drank a few beers with the guys in the band and I got hired – much easier than a formal job interview with some supercilious HR interviewer giving you the hairy eyeball and just waiting for you to say the wrong thing so you could get your ass booted politely out the door.

I had a lot of friends and I didn’t have to get up early and shave and commute somewhere and punch a time clock and I just kept on being Peter Pan, having fun and never developing into the mature, responsible, tax-paying, voting, community-involved, church-going consumer-type family man that the government depends on to keep the country running. I was living on the fringe, not too worried about things like retirement, pension funds, 401K’s, political or social issues or nebulous threats from foreign countries.

So steel guitar was just something I fell into, something that steered me away from real life, and it’s been fun. I got to travel all over the US and some foreign countries, ride in limos, meet famous people, be on TV, eat expensive meals that a lot of working people couldn’t afford, have people arrange my hotel reservations and car rentals and drive me around in a big ol’ bus.

It was all too easy. Falling into it, that is. Climbing out could be more problematic.

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