I stopped memorizing songs when I was 17

Sitting on the floor of the Montgomery BART station with my back up against a trash can, mumbling the final verse of Brown Eyed Girl, I had this thought: What the hell song am I going to play next?

That thought led to this realization:

I don’t think I’ve fully memorized how to correctly play an entire song since I was a teenager. Like a small child learning a language, I sponged up several songs a week at that time, without even trying. Those days are gone, thanks to my fully-formed adult mind as well as the popularity of the Internet.

That’s not to say I didn’t improve as a musician and vocalist in the last ten years; I did. But I also developed an ability to improvise chord patters and repeat memorable lines to make up for forgotten lyrics. The latter requires much less effort.

The beauty of busking in the subway is your audience changes every 15 seconds, so you can repeat stuff constantly. But it seems ridiculous that I’ve been spending the final 30 seconds of each song rummaging through my memory for a title to play next.

In the spirit of this blog, I’m gonna make myself learn one popular song every week. I’ll film myself playing them and then post. It’ll be fun.

I’ll start with a watered-down version of Tiny Dancer, by Elton John, because everybody loves that song… I just typed it into YouTube and found this. Awesome:

Ps: I made $7 on the day I played last week, bringing my total to $15.11, which is about the cost of four burritos (two-and-a-half in San Francisco). College loans aren’t measured in burritos, though. So I better get to work.

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