Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to Play the Harmonica

I'll be honest here: I've never liked Dave Barry. His columns always struck me as too smarmy, with lots of weak, gratuitous sarcasm serving no particular purpose. But, everyone's taste is different. Anyway, as a long-time hobbyist harmonica player, this book by Dave Barry's brother was hard for me to pass up. It purports to be a humorous guide to playing the harmonica and to living a happier life. And this is a hard message for me to argue with. Like the characters in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You the harmonica has long been a key for me for remembering to be playful, and to live in the moment. So, I had high hopes for this. Sadly, I didn't like it very much -- Sam Barry's sense of humor is exactly like his brother's, and just as scattered. Trudging through it felt kind of like work to me. That said, I've been playing harmonica for about 20 years, so the basic harmonica stuff didn't hold much for me. On the other hand, though, I mostly play straight harp -- this book made me finally understand how the blues scale is different than the normal scale. Honestly, I suspect that had I found this book 20 years ago, I would have really, really liked it. Today, I like the idea of it, but didn't personally enjoy it much. But I'm going to hang on to it until I really get the hang of the blues!

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