Sunday, July 8, 2012

Driving Wheel, My Ass

Most of you know me as a man of many talents. Husband, father, writer (work emails and Facebook statuses, mostly), and avid eater of onion rings. But what many of you don’t know is that I’m also a musician.  

What instrument, you ask? The steering wheel, of course.

The one in our mini van.

Not familiar with that instrument, you say? Of course you are! You see a steering wheel every time you get into your car.  I understand that most people think it’s only use is for steering the car.  But I’ve discovered its true purpose.

The steering wheel is a multi-faceted instrument that can enhance whatever musical experience you are having in your vehicle. Whether it’s a song on the radio, a CD or a sing-along (group or solo), the steering wheel can make it better. I know. I’ve done it.

Who hasn’t tapped along on the odd inanimate (or animate, come to think of it) object, to simulated the drumming to a song on the radio?  Well, the steering wheel lends itself not only to that, but other instruments as well.  

Did you ever feel those little ridges on the wheel? Some people assume they’re there to give you a better grip while steering. Wrong! They’re there to simulate the frets on a guitar’s fretboard.  Or, if you like, the keys on a piano.

So you see, you’ve got an extremely versatile instrument there in your hands! (And guys, can you ever be told that too often?) Depending on the song, it can be used to play a bass, rhythm or lead guitar. Add to that keyboards or aforementioned drums (wind instruments are a bit of a stretch, but I’ve done it) and a synthesizer seems kind of lame (and doesn’t come standard with most vehicles).

During the course of a single song, you could play any or all of these instruments, but I frown on this practice. Unless it’s a great song, you should really stick to a single instrument. There are other musicians in the band, after all. It’s not all about you.

And doing solos while turning can be a little tricky.  But if you do it right, it’s can be quite thrilling.

We recently drove to D.C. (five hours on a good day, eight that day), which meant bringing the right CDs along for the trip.  And what better CD to bring (and to show the versatility of  the steering wheel) than the Beatles Abbey Road?

Here are just some of the parts you can play from that record:
Come Together - bass, drums
Something - lead guitar
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer - rhythm guitar, piano
Oh Darlin’ - rhythm guitar, piano
Octopus’s Garden - lead guitar
She’s So Heavy - lead, rhythm and bass guitar
Here Comes the Sun - acoustic guitar
Because - okay, you got me there, but harpsicord is doable
You Never Give Me Your Money - piano, lead guitar and bass
Sun King - rhythm and bass guitar
Mean Mr. Mustard - Rhythm guitar
Polythene Pam - Rhythm and lead
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window - lead guitar
Golden Slumbers - piano
Carry That Weight - rhythm guitar
The End - drums and guitars
Her Majesty - acoustic guitar

And, if you’ll forgive me, I must confess that, on “The End”, I do drums and all the guitar parts.  I just can’t resist. It took four Beatles to play it, but I’m able to do it all on a single steering wheel.

So, as you can see, a steering wheel really can enhance a piece of music for everyone in the vehicle. Or you, at least.

Oh, and we made it to DC okay.. 

Now, at the time, the wife and kids weren’t as enthusiastic about this... well, it’s a calling, really.  
But now that they’ve grown up and have their own cars, they actively encourage me. They’ve even considered getting me a fretboard-shaped steering wheel for Christmas.

But I passed on it. I’m a steering wheel man, all the way.

Anyone can play guitar.

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