You probably think all I do in my spare time is surf the net. I only search the net for really worthwhile things, like videos on guitar lessons. Or funny videos about one of my favorite people, like guitarist, Joe Walsh.
I found a humorous series of “Joe Walsh Teaches Guitar” videos taken from a 1990 Joe Walsh interview. I love his talent. He’s written songs like, Rocky Mountain Way, In the City, and Life’s Been Good. When he’s bored, he writes and tours with the Eagles. Walsh’s talents are rivaled only by his wit and spaced-out quirky nature. The video series is worth watching, if only for the entertainment value.
Each video starts with the title, “Reasons Why Joe Walsh is a Bad Guitar Instructor”. Lesson #1 is how to write a guitar solo. The lesson lasts 17 seconds. In it, Joe says, “How do you come up with a solo? I don’t know… I don’t know.” The interviewer prompts him, saying, “Come on, you do too.” Joe shrugs his shoulders and says, “Uh, I don’t know folks.” Literally, that’s the end of lesson #1 of “Joe Walsh Teaches Guitar”!
Just when I thought the entire series was just about Joe being Joe, he said something brilliant when he talked about learning from his influences. His advice to other artists was to learn to play every Beatles song ever written, and to learn the third part harmony on every Everly Brothers record.
Joe Walsh is about 20 years older than I am, so his influences were popular before my time. Yet, I get the part about learning from the ground-breaking work of the Beatles. I also understand why someone would benefit from a study of the tight harmony of the Everly brothers, but (pause the video) wasn’t the Everly Brothers only two guys?
The internet says yes there were only two Everly brothers, so it must be true. So, the obvious question: If there were two Everly brothers, how can there be a third part to their two-part harmony? Joe Walsh was either stupid or high when these videos were made. Maybe both.
I hit play, I began to see the genius of Joe Walsh. Walsh strummed the chorus of the Everly Brothers classic, Cathy’s Clown, and sang the part of one of the Everly brothers. He strummed the song again and sang the other brother’s part.
“There’s a third part in there,” he said. Joe played the melody for a final time and sang a third part to the harmony. “That’s the part that ain’t there! … Learn that third part, the ghost part as we call it.”
There’s more to some music than what we hear, and we’ll never hear it unless we really listen. We will never see what’s not visible in visual art unless we are willing to learn to look for it. There is much more in writing than what a collection of words can tell us. It takes patience to learn the part that’s not there. Joe Walsh says that’s why tuning takes time, and why he doesn’t mind it, because that patience is needed later. Joe, you are a genius.
Perhaps no greater proof of the genius of Joe Walsh is in his concluding remarks. He wrapped up the video interview with the profound Walshian statement, “Remember, if your feet smell and your nose runs, you’re upside down.”
Our job as artists is simple. No matter what kind of art we make, if we want to become better, we need to learn the part that ain’t there!
Go make stuff!