I learned to play the guitar 50 years ago when I was 9. I fell in love with a 19 year old day camp counsellor named Helen Jennings that summer. She used to play folk songs for us under a big tree after lunch every day. I loved the singing time. Of course there was the age barrier that was coming between us, so I had to find a way to impress her. I decided that way was to learn to play the guitar real fast and show up at camp with my guitar. So that weekend I did it!

My dad was the director of UCLA extension in the late 50's and put together a social guitar playing class specifically for classroom teachers. No theory, no music reading, just get down to playing and singing. Dad showed me a couple chords and emphasized the importance of always keeping the song going with strumming regardless of what chords I was playing. You'll find that theme throughout this little lesson.

BTW - I did take my guitar to camp the next monday. Helen said "Oh Paul, I didn't know you played the guitar" I calmly said "oh, yes I do - can I play along with you?" The rest is history. I'm actually on a search to find Helen and thank her.

These simple lessons should get you going!

By the way - the book that was assembled by Bess Lomax Hawes (daughter of the great American musicologist John Lomax) for the UCLA Extension guitar class is the notebook of songs I learned from. In honor of my dad and that unique approach to putting guitar playing and group singing in the hands of so many, I named my company Dad's Songbook Music.

This is my story.

Dad's Songbook by Paul Svenson

At the bottom of the corner of the family room bookcase
Sat a worn and tattered notebook, that I still have today
It was filled with old typed pages
Nothing special at first look
But there was lots of buried treasure I discovered in that book

CHORUS:

We'd open up Dad's Songbook and it took us far away
Cross Rocky mountains, Tennessee hills and the San Francisco Bay
With songs of family, friends and country
Trains and outlaws and the sea
It was all there in Dad's Songbook,
And its still right here in me


We would sing about the dust bowl
And poor Charlie's MTA
About old Tom Dooley's troubles
And how they gunned down Jesse James
We would salute the ship Titanic
And we'd fish that Crawdad hole
It was all there in Dad's Songbook
Just three chords and lots of soul.

TO CHORUS

There were songs by Pete and Woody
By the Weavers and Burl Ives
Leadbelly and Odetta made my spirits come alive
How I loved the Kingston Trio and that lonesome cowboy sound
It was all there in Dad's Songbook,
So we sang another round

TO CHORUS

You know mom would always be there
She'd say "sing a song for me"
About that Lavendar Cowboy,
Or Willie in the Deep Blue Sea
We'd sing kids songs with Sam Hinton
And we'd laugh with old Tom Lehrer
From the pages of Dad's Songbook
In the days of the New Frontier

BRIDGE:
For our late night benediction
Just before we turned out all the lights
We'd all sing So Long - Its Been Good to Know You
and Goodnight Irene, goodnight

We'd open up Dad's Songbook and it took us far away
Cross Rocky mountains, Tennessee hills and the San Francisco Bay
With songs of family, friends and country
Trains and outlaws and the sea
It was all there in Dad's Songbook,
And its still right here in me

©1990 - Dad's Songbook Music LLC



Happy singing. Paul
How to play the guitar right now!