As in when Wayne Gretzky played that game on ice. That’s how he described it.
He possessed such a superior athletic intellect that when he played he was able to see the game in slow motion because I suppose his brain processed the action much faster than normal human beings or other normal human being hockey players. It was a gift. After all they did call him “The Great Gretzky.”
Supposedly in times of great stress we normal beings benefit from our brains speeding into hyperdrive and slowing the action so we can analyze the situation and make the best of it.
I sort of had that kind of experience the other night although it did not involve a stressful or otherwise athletic encounter.
The big band, all 18 pieces, was playing a gig and midway through the second set when I was warmed up and had my amp dialed in we pulled up Duke Ellington’s ” Take the A Train” written by his long time collaborator Billy Strayhorn.
It’s not an especially difficult chart for the guitar player, who would be me, but we zipped out of the gate at a pretty brisk tempo. The four bar piano intro sets it up and we were off.
We’re zipping along, I’m sitting literally right on top of the drum kit and so the kick and hat are providing plenty of drive. I’m not only hearing it, I’m feeling it and me and the rest of the rhythm section is ” In the Pocket.” Look it up.
And somewhere during the tune, I can’t recall exactly where but somewhere on page two I’m floating and flying and even though we’re zipping along at 80 miles an hour I’m seeing the chart and playing my chords in what I can only describe now as the game slowing down. The chart is as big as the windshield on my car. The notes are a foot tall.
I’m driving my guitar right on the beat but my brain has somehow become disconnected. I’m reading the chart in slow motion but the song maintains the tempo and I’m right in the middle of it all.
My musical brain is right there directing traffic. My eyes are locked on the page, I’m not looking at my hands. They are doing just fine on their own acting together even though they are making separate and distinct motions. Lefty is going left and Righty is going right. My foot is tapping to the beat and what’s flooding my ears is pure magic.
I’m inside the song, I’ve crossed some kind of boundary into a zone I don’t normally get to be in but tonight I’m there and it’s beyond words – joy maybe?
I don’t want the song to end, I’m hoping there is a repeat sign at the end but I know there isn’t.
It’s the fastest 3 minutes and 5 seconds in the world that also lasts an hour in slowed down Wayne Gretzky time.
My thanks to Billy, Duke, the bands ( Duke’s and ours), Fender amps and Guild guitars.