Say what you will about people who play guitar on a backpacking trip, but there is no denying: IT IS A PLOY*.
But wait, there are people that just really love music. Some of them can play guitar and they want to share their talent with the world. I don’t believe it for a second. Not while backpacking. Carrying a guitar around while traveling is a huge hassle. (My buddy, Jeff, writes: Who actually travels with a guitar? It immediately puts you into excess baggage everywhere. They are fragile, and temperature/humidity sensitive.) And you’re telling me these altruistic troubadours are inconveniencing themselves for the sake of a simple love of music? Not a chance. They do it to get laid.
It works. I’ve seen it. So have you — admit it. Some dude whips out a guitar at a beach/campground fire or in a hostel common area and proceeds to strum some of the lamest shit detectable by the human ear. Nevertheless, because most girls love musicians and manage to overlook the ugliness (or fatness/dreadlocks/dirtiness/awful hipster style) of supposedly talented (or, in other cases, wealthy) men, these guitarists indeed kill women softly… with their song. It’s a classic case of guys batting out of their league (i.e. score chicks who would otherwise ignore them completely). It’s unlikely, but it happens. It’s similar to how underdogs pull off upsets at March Madness.
The worst part is, they made Juicy Fruit commercials mocking this type of behavior (April 28, 2010: I just watched Animal House for the first time, and John Belushi smashes some kid’s guitar, too. It’s great!), yet the crime persists worldwide. While the perpetrators might not be wearing ski sweaters, they offend with covers of the usual suspects: Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, RHCP, Nirvana, Radiohead, Oasis (esp. “Wonderwall”), James Blunt, etc. (Jeff adds: I left out John Mayer and John Butler because usually the douchebags can’t figure out the tuning.) After witnessing a scruffy, nondescript guy woo a group of gorgeous Swiss girls with his rendition of “High and Dry” and proceed to sleep with two of the girls on consecutive nights, one of my friends had seen enough. He bought a guitar upon returning home that fall.
The best part? The guys’ game faces as they belt out the lyrics, often with their eyes closed. Priceless.
Some of these guys, however, don’t even play well. For example, there’s that scene in Role Models where the one guy brings a guitar on the camping trip and starts playing a song, only to screw it up, stop and start over again repeatedly. (Jeff: In between each song is a healthy beenou about how “my band back home puts on one hell of a show.” Well sir, I have news for you. It doesn’t. Your band back home sucks. That’s why no one’s heard of you, you’re playing powerchords poorly, and you resort to just tapping the guitar and bobbing your head to cover the parts you don’t know.)
It always made me wonder, though: How much ass could the real Jack Johnson get, if he actually went backpacking (consider, too, that he’s a former pro surfer)? It blows my mind.
*Ploy (noun): A display of fake talent, intelligence or compassion performed in order to impress members of the opposite sex, and ultimately, to get laid. Men, particularly those on major sex droughts, are more likely to resort to ploys. Common backpacker ploys include: volunteering for NGOs; speaking a foreign language; being good with children and animals; caring about art, religion, world politics, the environment, feminism, gay rights, local inhabitants, and people with disabilities; disapproving of wild partying, drug use and promiscuity; and playing guitar.