Alfonzo.  Flaminco guitar player in Tulum.

Alfonzo. Flaminco guitar player in Tulum.

The first image of a person playing a guitar was inscribed on a piece of stone tablet that is 3300 years old. I’m guessing that he might have played by ear but I could be wrong. One thing that is certain is that he probably was asked to play for free for the “exposure” and musicians have been notoriously underpaid ever since. Who knows really? Maybe he was a stone age rock star, maybe he was the guy who invented it. Or maybe it was a concert poster, we’ll just never know.
However it started the guitar has become a powerful thing these days. Whether it be flashy or soulful, soft and simple, or loud and complex the range of sounds and ideas that are being generated today is simply overwhelming.
There are numerous books and magazines devoted just to guitar playing and almost any music store will carry at least a rack of guitars for sale. From the humble acoustic 6-string to the flashy double-neck electric the variety of guitars is immense as well.

So what makes this one instrument so popular? There was one reason that I wanted to learn how to play guitar: girls. At 12 years old with my young teenage hormones just starting to rage I decided that the best way to meet girls was to play guitar. After all look at all the girls that were in love with the rock stars, literally throwing themselves at them. That was definitely for me!

Fast forward three decades and a bit and now I play for the love of playing. It’s the greatest feeling to create music, especially when there are a group of musicians and you are all creating music together. The guitar allowed me to travel, meet a ton of new people and gave me self-confidence. The memories I have will stay with me for life and I’m not done playing music yet. I will play until I physically cannot anymore, that is the power of the guitar.
I’ve never made a lot of money playing music. Most times it was a struggle just to feed myself and pay the rent. So I’ve always had to have a different job to make ends meet. But the playing bug bit me and I just can’t stop playing music. I have a lot of musical friends who feel the same way. They all have “day jobs” but ask them to describe themselves and you will hear what instrument they play and what group they play music with. Musician first, occupation to pay bills second. You keep playing because you have to. There is no stopping it. You must play because you love too! This is the only way I can explain it. ( Okay,,read this out loud and say it like Arnold Shwarzenegger) Okay,, it’s only kinda funny,, anyways,,
The world’s oldest known song, written on a clay tablet, is about 3400 years old. You can be sure that the words are not “Baby, baby , baby,,,, oh baby baby!” No, it probably had a little more meaning to it than that! It probably told a story of some sort like most good songs do. I also doubt that the guy who wrote it grabbed his crotch for most of the song as well! But he probably wrote it for one reason: girls. Some things just never change!

Now the guitar is a popular instrument all over the world and Mexico is no exception. In Tulum you will find troubadours who will serenade you at your table for a generous “donation” and lots of them are actually very good. I’m not sure if they are making a living doing it but I suspect like anywhere they probably have a “day job” as well! You will also find Mariachi bands, Flamenco guitarists and dancers, blues and rock groups and players of just about any style of music there is.

It is amazing to me just how small our world has become when you can hear popular songs in English being played by street musicians in a Spanish speaking country. Friedrich Neitzsche said “Without music, life would be a mistake” How true! And how boring life would be as well! You can be certain that the guitar will always be a popular instrument for many years to come. After all there will always be twelve year old boys who want to meet girls!