There Should Be a Cowbell Hero

There Should Be a Cowbell Hero
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

I'm becoming a guitar hero. A veritable rock god. With only three fingers.

Thanks to a recent purchase for our Nintendo Wii, my wife and I have been enjoying the game Guitar Hero III with an enthusiasm usually seen when our kids get a new toy, or when I find a forgotten beer in the back of the fridge.

Admittedly, I'm on the easy level, where I only need to use three fingers -- the same level that my 11-year-old daughter is quickly mastering. But as my abilities improve, I can move up to the four and five finger levels of medium and hard difficulty. Plus I can ground her from the game when she gets too good.

But while she's still learning the opening song, Slow Ride, by Foghat, I have already mastered 38 of the 42 songs with three-fingered ease. I have beaten Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Slash of Guns N' Roses in guitar showdowns, and sent both of them crying off the stage like wimpy bass players.

(Thankfully, there is no Bass Hero, but if they ever came out with French Horn Hero, I could relive my high school band glory days.)

Although I haven't played a real guitar since I was 12, I now have a small understanding of what real guitarists go through as they pick and pluck their way to the top. As a soon-to-be three-fingered guitar hero, I have some advice for all you would-be rockers, based on my own meteoric rise to success.

Rule #1 – Watch out for screaming groupies who storm the stage. Having three little kids scramble around my feet like hyperactive cats, doing handstands in front of the TV, or singing along with the music can be almost as distracting as screaming women who grab you around the neck for a kiss. Or so I'm led to believe. You have to concentrate and play through the distractions, although hearing your five-year-old sing "swo wide, take it easy" is pretty cool.

One difference is that groupies who storm the stage are carted off by roadies and event security, while my groupies only stop when it's bedtime. Also, real groupies don't ask over and over if they can have a turn and then pout when you say they're not old enough.

Rule #2 – Make time for wives and/or girlfriends. You're probably getting into music for the women. Of course, I met my wife well before I became a three-fingered guitar god, so I don't have any experience there. (Although my checkered past as a French Horn-playing bad boy did pique her interest when we first met.)

If you haven't seen your wife or girlfriend all day, don't spend your free time playing your guitar. Spend time with her. Every good relationship needs communication and attention. After all, it's the dream of every male rock-and-roller to find that one special woman to spend the rest of their life with. Isn't it?

Addendum to Rule #2: "Spending time with someone" does not mean they get to watch you play for three hours while you tell them not to talk because it ruins your concentration.

When you do find your soulmate, make sure she's not a rocker, or she'll expect you to follow. . .

Rule #3 – Share the stage. There are other members of the band: a drummer, a singer, and a guy who holds a bass guitar. (Why can't bass players use a door correctly? They don't know when to come in.) You need to work as a team, and share the spotlight.

In my case, I also have to share the instrument. Both my wife and my daughter are budding Guitar Heroes , and we only have the one guitar. I feel like the football team from The Waterboy, which had to share football helmets and protective cups.

Rule #4 – Don't trash talk your bandmates. Sure there are lots of great bass player jokes (What do you call someone who hangs out with musicians? A bass player), but don't joke about their playing, or you'll sleep on the couch. At least you will if said bandmate is your wife or girlfriend. Giving advice, pointing out problems, or offering to beat Tom Morello in a guitar duel for them will not make them happy either.

Guitar Hero has created a wide-open market for other musical games, and I plan on diving in with both feet. In fact, I've got an idea for my own music video game called "Cowbell Hero: I've Got a Fever."

I'll be a cowbell god.

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