There are the things I do that I would prefer no one ever witness.
It’s not that I embarrass easily but some of these things are so personal that to observe them would be to gain an unfiltered glimpse, however brief, into the inner workings of my very person, warts and all.
This list, which includes acts far too gross to mention here, isn’t all that lengthy.
But it does include my air guitar habit.
With respect to those competing this weekend in finals of the U.S. Air Guitar Championship in Denver, I can’t imagine feeling anything but crippling shame and embarrassment at the thought of someone, friend or foe, watching me go all Shreddy Krueger on my imaginary ax.
I’m an adult and it stopped being cool to pretend to do stuff a long, long time ago.
Playing air guitar is akin to issuing instructions to imaginary flight attendants and passengers as you “pilot” your car on a lengthy road trip.
“Welcome aboard, Honda Flight 1983. Our ETA at Mom and Dad’s House International Airport is about 7 p.m., depending on the jet stream and bathroom breaks.”
Sure, it’s funny but there’s something slightly delusional about it.
But I can’t — and won’t — pretend that I don’t sometimes wield the air ax to often monumental results.
I’m darn good.
My face-melting air guitar stylings have been described (by me) as “life-affirming” and are easily triggered by a particularly epic guitar riff or solo.
It’s borderline involuntary but I do have discerning tastes.
I’m turned off by mindless, self-indulgent shredding, though the manual dexterity required to play (or even pretend to play) such guitar parts is enviable.
But solos that fit perfectly in the pocket of a song will have me lighting my air Stratocaster on fire like Hendrix at Monterey in ’67.
Such solos, however, seem to be a dying breed.
The music of today features some great guitar parts but is regrettably low on big, swelling guitar solos, an artform that seems to have celebrated its heyday in the early 1970s and had all but vanished by the late 1990s.
And that’s a shame.
This week, in honor of one of my guiltiest pleasure and embarrassing habits, a play-list of some of my favorite guitar solos. Dust off your air guitar and start shredding. Just don’t let anyone see you.
• Queen, “We Will Rock You” — Picking a favorite Brian May guitar solo is a lot like picking a favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s all good.
• Boston, “More Than a Feeling” — A song featuring, not one, but two great guitar solos.
• Prince, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” — For me, Prince’s best work on guitar. Sorry, “Purple Rain.”
• The Strokes, “Last Nite” — A solo that always gets me out of my seat.
• The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil” — One of the greatest solos ever. All hail, Keith.
• Radiohead, “Paranoid Android” — A subtle classic from Jonny Greenwood.
• Oasis, “Champagne Supernova” — A guitar solo so memorable I could sing every note.
• John Mayer, “Gravity” — Rarely have a song and solo fit together so perfectly.