My First (embarrassing) Songs Learned

Everybody has some favorite songs from their past that are questionable to say the least. As embarrassing as this may be, and pathetic as it may look, here are the first 5 songs that I just had to learn how to play. Looking back, however, the one redeaming factor of choosing these songs is that I had to learn something unique for each. Totally unplanned. This had to be a boost though.

DISCLAIMER: By “songs” I really mean only one specific section of the song. Also, by “learned” I really mean I got down good enough to be somewhat recognizable (once out of ten attempts)

Okay, so here it is:

1. Everlast – “What It’s Like”

  • guitar intro only
  • Unique lesson: guitar picking

2. Green Day – “When I Come Around”

  • intro/main riff
  • Unique lesson: Power chords & palm muting

3. Papa Roach – “Last Resort”

  • main riff/verse
  • Unique lesson: fast guitar picking while palm muting & Drop D Tuning

(THIS WAS WAAAAY OVER MY HEAD but passion lead to obsession and allowed me to get it down)

4. AC/DC – “Back In Black”

  • Intro/Main Rifx (just the 3 chords)
  • Unique Lesson: as strange as it may seem learning the easier ACDC riffs turned me on to learning chords (not just the 3 chords that makes up ever ACDC tune)


  • main riff
  • Unique lesson: with drop-d and enough distortion the easiest riffs could sound HUUUUUGGGGEEEE (at least in my room)

Becoming Passionate

During a recent conversation between myself and my son regarding the sport of American Football (first week of practice while he was questioning his decision to play) I came to a realization.

I’ll spare readers of my football related pep talk. However, what was realized can be related to anything possible. If people decide to do something, whether it is by choice or even if being forced, and regardless of if its a hobby, job, skill, talent, etc. this should be universally true.

The common sense bit: Nobody has fun doing something they have absolutely no skill in/arent aren’t at all good at. In contrast, our favorite tasks/hobbies are usually ones in which we are already highly skilled. The better we get at a particular thing, the more we enjoy doing it (or at least we dont loathe it as much as when we suck at it).

Playing the guitar is slightly unique in a different way because it can be highly enjoyable while still having little to no skill at all. If you have the gear to make noise, just making loud obnoxious noise is fun. With an acoustic guitar only, one note played successfully or even better one fully formed and wonderfully sounding chord, the player often gets tremendous amounts of joy. This joy, much to the the annoyance of friends and family members around, can be replicated over and over and over by simply creating one specific sound (note/chord).

Once individuals become convinced that they can achieve the amount of talent needed to be whatever their preferred level of accomplishment is, no matter how accomplished or to what level they actually achieve compared to other guitar players, a different form of interest often appears.

This is when interest transforms into something much more powerful.


Once passionate, individual learners don’t need any push to practice and learn. Passion is the force that allows people to force themselves to play and play and play until their fingers bleed. Passion also gives individuals the confidence to get creative.


In summary, anything that is fun and is unnatural to what you already know will likely suck at first. It is my guarantee, however, that if you stick with it through the initial shitty beginnings, the payoff of being able to play the guitar will be 100% worth it. Using my system, you will hopefully find PASSION quickly, and as a result the “suck” period will have the shortest duration possible.

Provided some images of the exact day my first cheap guitar & amp were dropped off at my childhood home by a FedEx truck. As you can see, as soon as I was plugged in and cranked the volume, I WAS ALREADY HAVING FUN… With absolutely zero knowledge. This time next year, while obviously lacking in many areas, I was a good enough to be able to confidently say “I can play the guitar”… With enough well-known riffs under my belt to convince my friends and my family that I really could.

– Austin Ray

Jam Lab Blog