I’m Still Alive: Getting my mojo back with Pearl Jam’s ’10’ – Post 4

So, after my ‘Day from Hell‘ at the start of the week, a highlight of the end of the week was going along to my second drum lesson. To read about why I am doing this at my advanced age, you’ll need to look at my first Drumming post.

It was an awful, grey wet day but I was rocking it with my new red scarf (the only good thing to come out of my ‘Day from Hell’.

My new scarf from  Lili et Antoine. Lipstick: Lipstick Queen’s ‘Scarlet Sinner’

Unfortunately, I’d teamed it with my little black work suit which has quite a tight skirt. I was grateful that I had decided to wear thick black tights, because after about ten minutes at the drum kit I realised my skirt had rucked right up and I was exposing way more thigh than I would want anyone to see – particularly my poor drum teacher Charlie.

By the way, don’t be imagining long, elegant thighs sheathed in enticing black nylon – you should be picturing short, chubby, mottled pyramid shaped wodges of flesh, stuffed sausage-like into tights so thick they might as well have been jeans.

I was excited about this second lesson and was hoping to be quite impressive as I had been practising my double beats, left/rights and paradiddles (great word, eh?) all the Christmas holiday.

I was not impressive.

(As an aside, one unexpected bonus of drumming practice with a Fitbit on your wrist is that it puts your steps RIGHT up so it looks like you’ve walked miles. This is good as I bought my sister-in-law a Fitbit for Xmas and she and I are friends on the same competitive board. She has proved alarmingly keen and I am having to up my game to beat her. )

Charlie asked me to remind him why I was doing this again? (Good question). I told him about wanting to learn drums well enough to play Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ in front of an audience with a band in June.

He nodded his head and Googled the track  on a nearby computer and pressed play.

As it played I thought – as I  have thought before but shrugged off –  blimey, that sounds really difficult. After a while of listening to an increasingly complicated rhythm accompanied by cool clashing guitars and a whole lot of yarling, Charlie stopped the video and and handed me a sheet of music.

It was nothing like the bits and pieces I have been working on all holiday, and I completely SUCKED when I try to play it. I’d get it for a bit then think about what I was doing, which immediately put me off. Eyes fixed on the music so hard they start to water, I tried again. And again. Eventually, only by slowing down to about one beat a minute, I finally ran it through twice properly.

Even with Charlie shouting repeatedly, ‘1 and 2 and 3 and FOUR!’ at me though, I didn’t seem to be able to go any faster. I must have looked dejected because he stopped yelling numbers at me and explained he gave me a different rhythm to try to help prepare me for the complexities of the Pearl  Jam song.


This is the bit I found really difficult

That little beat on the far right of the yellow circle? Looks easy doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t. I didn’t get it right for more than one bar in 20 minutes of repeating the stupid thing.

Then after a long time of me playing de dah! instead of Dah Dah! Charlie called a halt – probably out of pity – and handed me this fiendish little number.


This is what it looks like. See that little triply thing there on the left? I could not get my foot and hand to co-ordinate to do what the music says AT ALL.

Oh the humiliation!

I was feeling more and more depressed as the lesson went on and I just couldn’t get it. Goddammit!

Right at the end of the lesson Charlie got out the music which I had practised. This bit.


It’s basically: Boom Dat, Boom Boom Dat. Charlie gave me a second to run it through and then made me jump by putting on a raucous, guitar-led backing track. It was deafening – I had forgotten my ear plugs – and I looked at him in shock. ‘Go on!,’ he mouthed, ‘play along!’

Well that was it. In my head I was at Wembley Stadium with Black Sabbath and a screaming crowd. I absolutely hammered the crap out of the drum kit – lost in another rock world. It was BRILLIANT!

OK so I cocked up the drum rolls round the tom tom drums (Every. Single. Time) but for three bars out of four I was a complete rock Goddess.

I walked out of the percussion room with 3,000 extra steps recorded on my Fitbit (take that, sister-in-law!) and a Rock Star Swagger walk. My arms were aching and my back was killing me. But I felt about 17 years old.


5 thoughts on “I’m Still Alive: Getting my mojo back with Pearl Jam’s ’10’ – Post 4

  1. Lynn Z

    Rock Goddess! You are so much cooler than any 17yo! Thanks for sharing your journey with humor and honesty. I look forward to your posts. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: I’m Still Alive: Getting my mojo back with Pearl Jam’s ’10’ – Post 5 – Middle-Aged Warrior

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