Playing the guitar means always having something cool to do. It means having ambitions to be a rock star, escaping your life, or just learning to play your favourite songs. It means having fun – because you really don’t need to be able to read music or have lessons to do it pretty well – and it means buying a strap and making sure it’s the correct length so it looks right and feels comfortable. But mainly so it looks right.
Playing the guitar means forming a band with your mates and having your own thing, and it means struggle, on your own with sore fingers for two weeks, or with your band in little pubs, clubs and vans around the country until something happens or you give up. Playing the guitar means meeting new people and making new friends, it means staying up late, and showing off, and it means being able to express yourself, often at very high volume. Playing the guitar means fixating on a particular model or make you dream about getting but can’t afford. It means dressing up, and impressing some girls and impressing some boys. It means having a laugh, or disagreements over bits of songs or the direction of the group or the cover of the record, and it means feeling so happy about a riff or a song that you want the world to hear it that minute.
Playing the guitar means never being alone with nothing to do. It means strumming for fun, or going further and further into amazing territory and a lifetime of discovery and discipline, or just taking up a hobby that gives you a bit pleasure and a sense of achievement. Playing the guitar means everything. Know what I mean?
Johnny Marr, formerly of the Smiths