Music – Dan Joyce art


Posted by Dan Joyce on




I was twelve years old when I walked into Mo’s Music and bought my first drum with money I  had saved from a paper route. I thought of it as my first financial asset in that if I needed the money I could always sell it for nearly the same amount. I had limited music training growing up, just drums, percussion and rhythm. My friend taught me a few guitar chords from a book by Woody Guthrie. Other than that, I really couldn’t read the notes and for some reason didn’t care. I was kicked out of my first garage band for playing the drums while everyone was trying to tune their instruments. And I left the marching band cussing out the teacher and walking off the field. It may have not been a good start, but I had become something other musicians were known for, a rebel. During this time I took to art as well and excelled fast. 

In college I didn’t play much, I just went out to drink in punk rock clubs and got to know the musicians. They’d come over at night after the shows and some liked to sing my songs. My art dealer called it a hippie pad. We’d pass the guitar on one side and the joint on the other. I bought my first guitar for $25 visiting my friend Chris Long while he was in college in Santa Cruz. I immediately took to writing songs. After I wrote a few, I played them for my dad. He told me it was great country western music and I got mad and wanted to break my guitar. I wanted to be a rock star, not someone playing my dad’s kind of music. 

After college, I developed a lot of psychiatric issues and spent my time in rehabs and boarding homes. My family was always sure to go to Roger and his wife Mo down at the music shop and they would always give them a good deal on a guitar. I got to know Roger and Mo during this time through an organization we all belonged to. Roger was a soft-spoken and humble man while Mo was loud, out going and boisterous. We got along great. There were many nights at coffee when we closed the place down. But in spite the great camradery, they were always cautious of me due to my psychological issues and bizarre behavior. Also, their personal beliefs wouldn’t accept mental illness. That was later to drive a wedge between me and Mo. I’d often ask them for a job working at the music shop, but they always refused. Looking back, with the couple instruments I kind of played and the handful of chords I knew, I wouldn’t have been that useful.

In Pasadena, I became a street performer, but my signing and playing weren’t that good. I’d come up with funny acts, silly charades and wear wild hats to draw the people in, then play for them and get money. When I left that city, everyone knew me and my act. It was the first honest work I had done in years. I went on to Westwood, Santa Monica and Venice Beach, but the environment was too distracting and hard to keep people’s attention. During this time I had a music partner who was a prostitute. We would go play short sets and open mics in the clubs of Westwood and Los Angeles. She was actually very talented and quite good… at music too! Still having mental problems, I would often be admitted to psych hospitals in Beverly Hills, There I would meet rock stars, actors and writers and even collaborate with some of them. They would be there for psychiatric and often drug problems. Sadly many of them died from it.

I left Los Angeles and returned home. On an impulsive move, I bought a $700 guitar from Roger with money I had from a student loan. When my family found the expensive guitar they made me go back to Roger to return it the next day. But Roger had a no refund policy and saiid its was now a used guitar. That made me mad at Roger for years and my parents yelled at me. I eventually picked up and started playing the guitar. I even named it Roger. It was a beautiful celebrity ovation  with wood cuttings and holes all over the front. The story went that when Roger and I weren’t speaking to each other, I would pick my guitar and talk to Roger. I wrote many songs to talk to him and other people. Youtube and Facebook were developing and I could record songs and make videos and share them with many more people often out of anger and spite, but also out of love like the many songs I wrote for Karen. She wasn’t talking to me either, but eventually called when she was moved by one of my videos.  One song and video that stirred up a ruckus was called, Mo Get Rid of the Guns,” About Roger’s passion for shooting guns down at the rifle range. They both saw the video and Mo got mad. For that and other reasons, I was banned from the music store for many years. Mo died years later and we never resolved our differences, but the passion she gave me for making music on guitar and drums has lasted to this day. I will always remember her for that. 

When Mo died, Roger let me back in the store to buy things. I’d make little purchases, a tambourine, a harmonica, a kazoo, etc. He lets me call him on the phone and I got to know a lot about him. He was in the Vietnam War and has wonderful stories to talk about that overseas and when he came home. It’s a simple bit of history. I was young when the war ended and we were told not to talk to the soldiers as they were weird, dangerous and crazy. But Roger is nothing like that and although he ironically doesn’t have much interest in music, he knows all about the guitars and other stuff I buy. My guitar, Roger,  was stolen in a move when I left it out with my stuff on trash day, but even with my new guitar, Roger has become a great inspiration for my music and the songs I write. I always like to share them with him, but he doesn’t like my singing. So you see, a song is not a sound, but the people in your life whether a group of punk rockers smoking pot, a singing prostitute or an old veteran thinking about the war. May you all make music and sing it for the ones you love! 


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