One of the things I've been starting to do while traveling is take a portable instrument with me. I've got two - a travel acoustic guitar and a travel 5-string fretless electric bass. And I've been teaching myself both. Slowly. From scratch. With no idea what I'm doing.

In the tradition of "release early release often, " I submit my first attempts at playing the guitar that resemble a recognizable song. Behold the crappiness! (If you actually like these songs and do not wish to see them butchered, do not play the videos below.)

The first song is "Blackbird," by the Beatles.

And the second is "Diamonds and Rust," by Joan Baez.

I learned both songs by watching the fingers of high school friends playing them, then eventually asking them to do portions of it slowly so I could watch, then hand me the guitar so I could imitate. Not long after this, they taught me to read tab notation. I memorized both songs, and then proceeded to go to college and not borrow a guitar for five years.

Every time I pick up my guitar, I try to get a little better at something. Maybe it's just switching between the F and G7 chords. Maybe it's having a less awkward pull-off in that one section of "Diamonds and Rust." Maybe it won't last into the next practice section, but maybe it will.

Learning is fun. Learning to learn is also fun. I'm context-switching between emails, guitar, and reading gstreamer tutorials tonight - and will continue to do so until interrupted by a trip to Waffle House. Life is good.