Having Fun Yet? (Seriously—Are You?) BY SHAWN HAMMOND
When you hear someone say, “Are we having fun yet?”
it’s usually somebody with a sucky
attitude trying to drolly underscore the lameness of the current
situation. They don’t actually
want an answer—they just want
to bitch about life. But I’m asking
you seriously. Are you having fun?
In your job? At home with your
friends and loved ones? In your
band, in your studio, or in your
other guitar-related pursuits?
I’m not asking because I want
to encourage the sort of “eat,
drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” revelry that some of
us were warned about in church.
I ask because I want to remind
you that you’re not going to be
on this big rotating sphere of craziness that long.
I don’t think I’m having a
bona fide midlife crisis yet, but
recently I’ve been thinking a lot
about why I do some things—or
why I do them the way I do.
Maybe it’s because of how I was
raised. Maybe it’s because I was
the middle child of a very strict
father. Or maybe it’s some complicated mix of biological, environmental, socioeconomic, and
cultural factors. But, for whatever
reason, I grew up to be a pretty
reserved guy who thinks things
out and errs on the side of caution, safety, and protecting myself
from harm, criticism, or other
On the whole, I wouldn’t say
that has worked out badly, but
I’ll admit my reserved, some-
times over-analytical nature has
had its drawbacks. It has kept
me from going for it in various
pursuits—even sometimes in
music—because I was inordinate-
ly worried about consequences or
what people might think. It has
also been misinterpreted as stand-
offishness or lack of enthusiasm.
But I only realized this after
taking an honest look at my life,
observing other people’s behavior,
and being willing to admit there’s
room for improvement.
As Sly Stone said in “Fun” (from Life): “Put a smile on your face.
Leave that bummer behind.”
you to get serious once you’ve gotten out of school—and drab economic realities like the one we face
now tend to ratchet that requirement up several more notches.
Hell, even when it comes to
music—which is supposed to be
a source of joy and catharsis—
many of us refuse to have fun
because we aren’t satisfied with
our tone for longer than a few
weeks or months after acquiring
a sweet new guitar or amp. And
even though the average person
may hear us play and think,
“Man, that guy’s really good,”
we’re always thinking about that
screw-up in the last song (y’know,
the one we alerted everyone to by
making a weird face).
afford a boat or a custom-shop
axe. Only every time we cross
something off our list, we forget
that we were supposed to be having more fun and instead start
obsessing about the next thing.
But none of us are going to get
all the things on our lists. Even the
precious few who luck out and
keep getting the things on their
list will never stop adding bigger,
“better,” less attainable things to it.
We’re junkies that way.
So here are some more ques-
tions: Even if your job is pretty
mundane, do you take an inter-
est in others and try to laugh
and make the best of it? When
you get home from work, do
you wrestle your kids to the floor
and tickle them so hard that,
as they writhe around laughing
hysterically, they kick you in the
crotch or another sensitive body
part? Do you grab your signifi-
cant other, plant a huge smooch
on her/his lips, and drag them
out to do some crazy-ass thing
you haven’t done in ages—or
that you’ve never done? When
you jam with your band, do you
throw in stupid, inappropriate
licks that make your bandmates
laugh and lighten up? When you
gig, do you make eye contact
with people in the crowd and
nod or smile or wink or some-
thing Do you ever withhold
judgment of popular new songs
long enough to see that maybe
they’re huge because they’re fun
and make people happy—and
then glean something from them
to make your music more fun?