Talent

Talent. It is a strange thing. Some people ooze it without effort while others strive for it. A talent is a gift and it is a shame when a talent isn’t used.

I purchased a guitar for my eldest son Paul when he was quite small. He picked at it and strummed it as small kids do and then it gathered dust. I did try to teach him some chords but he seemed to have little interest. He took up violin in school and actually became quite good at it. He did study music as well.

One long hot Houston summer, I came home from work to discover Paul playing my electric guitar. Hours and hours on end in his room he strummed and played. after a few days, he could already play solos I could not. He asked for lessons and so I took him to a local guitar teacher for beginners. Within a couple of weeks, he was well past that teacher and so we found another. This one kept him going for about 6-months and then he was done too. We needed a real guitar virtuoso – a shredder who knew the theory and we found one in the shape of Joel Gregoire.

Within a few months of lessons from Joel, Paul was playing beyond anything I had ever witnessed. He had been playing a few months and was already capable of intricate and complex and fast (was he ever fast) compositions. Of course, he loved music like Opeth and other guitar-oriented metal and progressive rock bands and tried to emulate them. He entered a national competition and although very nervous and shy, he won the local round! He hit a few bum notes but otherwise wowed everyone present.

He started composing too and we went in to a local studio and came out with Flight of the Mongoose. Flight of the Mongoose was a hit with the music community being download thousands of times. He worked with Joel to record a couple of other tracks as well. He spent a summer at the Berkeley School of Music in Boston. If I had been him, I would have been in bands, playing live and looking for fame and fortune. But not Paul. He wasn’t good enough you see and couldn’t seem to understand that it is the little imperfections that make music interesting.

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His talent went to waste through college. When he emerged again, his musical taste had changed and so when he picked up the guitar again he chose to emulate the Gypsy Jazz players he so admired. Again, he recorded little bits and pieces but that search for perfection seems to always haunt him.

These days he has a job and he is busy. He is already looking at 30. He is the best guitarist I have ever seen or heard (other than Joel Gregoire). But other than for this sneaky post and one or two book promo videos I made using his guitar as a background, that seems destined to be a secret. Its a shame I think. I would have given my left leg to play like he does…

Oh, don’t get me started on his hockey and American Football talents either……

What it taught me as a father is that, while you can encourage your kids to develop their talents, you cannot live life through them. They want different things and have different needs and in the end, it is their life.

(Click the links to listen and download)

Here are a couple of book promotion videos I made using some of Paul’s more recent work as music.

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Japan and Birmingham

I play a lot of music during the day as I work in my home office. It never ceases to amaze me the power of music. In particular, its power to evoke memories and trigger mood and emotional responses. If I want to meditate, I simply go to youtube these days and select a nice suitable piece of music and I am off to other spheres…..

Today, I played some Japan. It has been a long time since I did and I was immediately transported back to Birmingham and 1979. My best friend at college – Steve – introduced me to Japan one afternoon at his flat. We were playing Dungeons and Dragons and he put one of their albums on. I loved the music and the deep rumbling of David Sylvian’s voice. I immediately went out and bought that record – and the next and the next. I devoured Japan music. Now, I listen and I am back in that room all of those years ago……. that is the power of music. 35-years on but ‘Nightporter’ sends me back in time every time.

I also went to see Japan. In Glasgow while doing my Ph.D. Perhaps they were an acquired taste but I could get no one to go with me and so I went alone. Amazing evening. Given it was a sell out at the Glasgow Apollo I have to wonder why none of my friends wanted to go? The music of Japan accompanied me to Nova Scotia and periodically through my life. I still adore David Sylvian’s voice and have two of his solo efforts too.

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It makes me wonder. What music will I associate with now? In a few years time, will I be transported back to my office in our apartment here in Brno by the sound of some artist or song? I guess I will.

Here is some David Sylvian to float to –