18. Playing Guitar


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.

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11 Responses to “18. Playing Guitar”

  1. Keane says:

    was the guy who bought the guitar upon returning home Mox?

    (beenou ps) I’ve played High and Dry on no fewer than three separate occasions with the successful result of bedding hot girls I had no right even considering. If you play this song right, there are three key reasons it works:

    1) Radiohead is damn cool, even if you have to play Pablo, The Bends or OK for hot chicks to recognize tunes.
    2) It requires working the entire neck of the guitar, and some nifty finger work. Girls love the sight of both of those things.
    3) Following on from points 1 and 2 and reinforcing the ploy, it’s NOT john mayer or some other wank (and it has nothing to do with figuring out tuning). Playing John Mayer would, even to the densest of birds, give away the ploy. It’s too obvious. High and Dry is an excellent go-to song.
    Take it from someone who knows (BEENOU!!!!!)

  2. ekimswish says:

    “disapproving of wild partying, drug use and promiscuity”

    Ironic since those are the things that get most people laid in the first place.

    Speaking of guitar ploys, back in my “born-again Christian” days, I saw this a ton. Every new on-fire-for-Jesus convert grew his hair out long (like Jesus), maybe even a beard, and proceeded to strum out love songs to JC. Damn that pissed me off. If there is a hell, it’s for them.

  3. Yorick says:

    Does being a cynical douchebag help you get laid? And did your buddy actually get some ass by going into music purely to decieve women? I hope not… Bitter, self-centered people give us actual artists a bad name with their phonyness.

    Suck it up crybaby. Just because you don’t have the balls to grow dreads or risk looking like a fool singing some radiohead or RHCP doesn’t mean you’re weak- not really.

    It does mean that you miss out on the fine women though. And I do mean fine- hotties who think they’re deep.. Don’t worry about it though. When you weekend warrior wannabes finally dip, and quit cramping peoples style, we’ll still be laughing. And playing guitar.

  4. mitchsmom says:

    Loving your blog… LOL

  5. Russell says:

    i’m a guitarist and bring my gat everywhere, (can’t sing) i love your blog, the whole thing is a masterpeice and without all the stereotypes it couldn’t exist.

    hey yorik so maybe some people do use the guitar to get laid, i’m not one of them and if you’re not one then don’t take offence, it just means he’s not talking about you! 🙂

  6. Nick says:

    I take my guitar everywhere. There have been times when i didnt take my guitar and really ended up regretting it. I’d rather lug that thing around and not play it , than be in some serene setting..or one lacking entertainment and not have it..and then everyone asks , “where’s the guitar? you should’ve brought it!” (or i may ask myself that question)

    “Wonderwall” is a communal,sing-along that everyone know the words to.

    “Hotel California” is the most requested ever.

    “Smells like teen spirit” for some reason is another frequent request..like i’m supposed to embody the vibe of punk rock evolution on my lil acoustic guitar?

    Bob Marley is easily associated with the acoustic guitar by stoners and black people, so u hafta know some bob tunes. which is funny, cos people only ask to play redemption song or no woman no cry…when there are loads of great bob marley songs.

    I don’t play in bands. and yes it gets me pussy….lots of it.
    i don’t bat out of my league, cos as a musician, i get to choose…
    its great! sometimes you could even flirt with a bird while she’s sitting there with here man. its quite hilarious actually.

    but even if there arent any birds around, i’d rather have my guitar than my backpack.all you really need is deodorant and an extra pair of socks anyways.

    anyhow, good writing. keep it up!

  7. CatchThatMonkey! says:

    Um… in our camping trips we usually end up being composed of all guys (usually because the gals are busy being wives or something lame like that) in somewhere remote (where you’re guaranteed that the only female you will see is perhaps that ant munching on your ankles, we still take guitars. What does this mean? :O

    Lulz. And yeah… I’m gay. My mates aren’t though. Does this mean they secretly want me? :O

  8. brad says:

    This post is like rain on you wedding day.

  9. Krimba says:

    Brilliant post and 100% accurate. Not many people see through that irritating guitar cliche which makes your article even more hilarious. I was in a hostel listening to some cowboy traveler play his guitar as I was reading this.

  10. noodlebowl says:

    One guy who lived long term in Dharamsala said that the common guitar player specialties were Dylan and Leonard Cohen.

  11. Dan says:

    Sund like you have trouble getting laid, or jealous of the dude who has a talent you failed at…


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