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NOVEL APPROACH: Six strings, 70 tales

First Posted: 7:58 pm - September 21st, 2015

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First Posted: 9/12/2012

Passion might bloom from inside each individual, but it takes something to set that passion off. For a future culinary star, it might be the first taste of a secret family recipe. For a stylist, it could be the first glances at a back issue of Italian Vogue. And for a guitarist, it’s that first encounter with the instrument, the moment it becomes more than just some wood and strings.

In “My First Guitar: Tales of True Love and Lost Chords from 70 Legendary Musicians,” guitarist and music journalist Julia Crowe lets her peers in the industry take turns recalling their first encounters with the effusive instrument.

Each storyteller, including Melissa Etheridge, Jimmy Page, and Les Paul, takes that idea of the first guitar as a jumping-off point. From there, some relay stories that go beyond that first instrument into other beloveds that followed, while others keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

All of the musicians in this book become essayists because Crowe offers a quick bio for each before letting them speak for themselves. Their backgrounds vary from blues and jazz guitarists to classical and rock guitarists and even guitar builders.

While the story of the first guitar is special to musicians, it’s more beguiling for those of us who would love to play but don’t have an ounce of talent in our bodies. In that case, these stories are like a fairy tale — a story we can appreciate but can’t completely grasp because it’s never happened to us.

Each entry in “My First Guitar” has its own merits, but some of the most charming are those by classical guitarist and composer Frederic Hand, legendary musician Carlos Santana, and Christian Frederick Martin IV, the current CEO of C.F Martin & Company.

Crowe’s own story, which is weaved in short chapters between those of her colleagues, is also a standout of the book. Like most musicians, she didn’t have it easy, but the trials and tribulations make for an interesting timeline.

The way “My First Guitar” is divided makes it a quick read, easy to refer back to for those certain favorites and easy to put down and start reading again no matter how much time has passed. It’s a must for passionate musicians — or those of us just passionate about music, regardless of aptitude.



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