So here’s my preaching for the week: Don’t be too proud to spend time learning cover songs. Throughout my career I have heard nothing but grief from people within the business about my decisions to learn, play, and record cover tunes that I love. How would Randy Newman respond to this notion? I think he would stick his tongue in his mouth and make it rattle, as he did when he got bad feedback from writing “Short People.” The truth is, you can learn so much by listening to and dissecting “the masters” and/or just people who you dig, simply to see what it was that they did to capture your attention in the first place with their music.

I feel that it is only after you know where you’ve come from that you will know where you want to go next. You have plenty of time to write your own music. It WON’T hurt you to do a little homework before you do. After all these years in the music business I am still constantly trying to learn new things. Otherwise, you rot.

I recently figured out how to play a Beatles song very dear to my heart that I had never actually learned: "Blackbird.” It is a work of art. In the process of continuing to learn (because I teach now) I learned how to play this song.

I also learned how to use a new music program called Midi Guitar from, which allows me to play MIDI (look it up if you don’t know) information with my regular electric guitar as well. Another thing I learned to do is to display it, streaming on “video capture” to the web for the purpose of showing this to students. All this I learned simply because I was requested by my student to figure out a cover tune. I may not be 100% on this version, but I am pretty darned close, and I learned SO much! I also am totally aware that there is no actual bass in Blackbird, but the music of it is still there in the guitar part. I took the liberty of adding a bass,just to do it. Enjoy—and PLEASE—listen to others' music and figure out what they did, for yourself.

Until next time, have fun while learning to make music!