13 August 2006
Plenty of people have picked up a guitar and learned to strum a few chords. Will Hodgkinson for no good reason decided that he would go far beyond this, and learn to play guitar well enough to perform his own concert within six months. Guitar Man is his story.
Hodgkinson's day job is as a journalist, so we can't help wondering how much of his journey is engineered so he can write a book about it, particularly given the arbitrary nature of his goal (Why six months? Why now?). His research background shines through in the trivia about the social history of the guitar, but it felt at times like he was leaving too much out of the interviews he conducted with famous guitarists.
The best bits are when he manages to blag a guitar masterclass from the likes of Johnny Marr of The Smiths and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. While we can share in Will's excitement at meeting his heroes and his progress as a guitarist, the book fails to pass on any of these lessons. I would have appreciated a more technical appendix that explained the killer techniques he picked up.
It didn't matter that I didn't know most of the music he writes about. Anyone who's ever loved a song will relate to and enjoy reading about his adventure. It's strictly one for hardcore music fans, though. If you've never played an instrument and never read an issue of MOJO, this probably isn't one for you.