Keeping at It

| November 30, 2010

Background

Since high school Phil Gordon has been in numerous bands and each has its own interesting story. I was particularly interested in his band Spinal Tap (before the mockumentary came out). He currently plays in a cover band, the Thigh Highs.

Teaching with the Video

Teachers could use this video in high school classrooms to discuss ideas about the importance of pursuing interests. Phil figured out early on what kind of music he wanted to play and what he was good at doing and stuck with it. It’s not about being famous for him, its about performing and making music.

Extended Interview

When did you start getting interested in music?
One thing I can remember is that we had this piece of furniture that was sort of a lounger, I was sitting on it watching the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember I was young enough. I remember that I was ecstatic, I was jumping up and down on that thing and Mom and Dad were like “what’s going on?” It was the Beetles. It was something different, those harmonies did something to me. It was so new and so different and it just struck such a chord, you know music it does this. Music, when you hear certain things — it does something to you that you can’t put to words.

Why you do this?
I love it, there’s no other reason it’s just…unfortunately sometimes there’s music playing in my head all the time and I’m trying to go to sleep at night. Sometimes that song is driving me crazy because that I can’t stop humming it. I realized that it was one of Jerry’s [the drummer] songs I was humming, oh that’s a good sign. But it’s pure love, I have no interest at all in designing a song or making music to be commercial or to make money out of it. I’m just doing it for the pure love of it for the sake of it. You know what, however many people hear it, it doesn’t matter because it makes us feel great.

How did you learn to play music?
I guess I started taking guitar lessons when I was twelve I think. I wasn’t very good. I started taking lessons from a jazz guitar player on Staten Island where I grew up. He made you read music and it was a good discipline. He made you play bar chords; there wasn’t any open chords. During practice he’d say you didn’t practice, go home! He was tough.

But then after about a year I got bored with it. I was into rock and roll, this wasn’t my thing. Then after that it was just all just teaching myself, whatever I could do and I wasn’t a really good guitar player. I was a good rhythm guitar player but I was never a good lead player. So then I just picked stuff up by ear, and I’d just read chord charts. Alright this is g-c-bb-e minor, twice and then in this part here. I just figured out things and I sort of plunked away on my own and got into a punk rock band in college.