What has Steve Vai’s guitar playing got to do with a man trying to have sex with a bicycle?


Well, to begin with, they were both drawn to my attention in the same week. The former, by my teenage son, the latter by blogger Steve Kane (http://.www.steve-kane.co.uk/blog/blog.htm) to whom I am indebted.

As I began to watch Vai on YouTube, I realised I did know who he was. I’d seen him before, and then, as now, he made me uneasy. He was Frank Zappa’s guitarist if you’re still trying to place him (of course, I hear you say, how silly of me to have forgotten that Vai was Zappa’s guitarist, how did it slip my mind?) and he is a man who makes seven strings produce the most ethereal music ever. Yes, seven. That’s the musical equivalent of writing a best-selling vampire novel – in blank verse.

Anyway, Vai and his guitar: go and have a look, especially the video of Tender Surrender. Creepy. This is not just a man posturing, this is a man REALLY making love to his guitar. It’s not just about what the guitar can do for him, but about what he is doing for the guitar, right there on the screen. Audience doesn’t matter to Vai; he’s neither particularly an exhibitionist nor particularly not – because anything beyond him and the chunk of wood, metal and cables that hugs his groin is irrelevant. I find it quite horrible to watch.

The word communion is over-used and has been taken hostage by the most bigoted section of the Christian ‘community’ as a tool with which to beat to a bloody pulp anybody whose sexuality is considered threatening. Nonetheless, communion is the only word I can find to fit Vai and his guitar. They are intercommunicating on a level that excludes any other participant, forcing the viewer to become voyeur.

This, presumably, is what the sad creature (although why should he be sad? Perhaps he’s a jubilant bike-fucker?) in the hotel room with the bicycle was striving for.

And it’s what I get, and assume any other writer gets, just often enough to keep me writing, through all the dross, the rejections, the revision, the failures, the cost that is never matched by income, for the few minutes when the intercommunication becomes communion and you can’t tell if you are writing or being written, playing or being played, lover … or bicycle.



Thanks to anonymouscollectiveme for the sexy bike photo, used under a creative commons attribution licence.

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