Andrew, fourteen, did an amazing job learning the guitar solo to "Let it Be". Armed with a fairly accurate tab acquired on the web, he went home and practiced effectively and thoroughly. He told me he broke the 'back' button on his iPod remote from scrubbing backward so much to listen to small sections of the solo repeatedly.
"Good job," I said. "You did it right, then!"
We explored some other solos he could learn, since he's on a roll. "'Maybe I'm Amazed' would be good."
"Ok, should I get the tab online?"
"Well, it's better than nothing. If it's wrong, we can fix it. God knows I've had enough practice doing that."
"So what did you do to learn a song when you were a kid? Did you just download the tabs?"
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. "It pains me greatly to say this," I said. "But you see, we did not have the Internet when I was a kid."
Andrew stared, amused and flabbergasted. "That sucks. So...what did you use computers for?"
"You know, word processing, spreadsheets, accounting..."
"So did you have Word?"
"I think by the early nineties. But I remember a time before Windows. We had," I paused. "DOS."
His eyes widened.
"Black screen, C-prompt, blinking cursor," I went on. "You had to talk to the computer in its own language. No photos, no movies, no music..."
"Well, it wasn't all bad. We also had ATARI 2600 - joystick, single orange button..."
"Wait - are you talking about a GAME CONSOLE?"
I had to laugh. I'm not so old, it's just that things have changed so fast.
"So anyway, there was no online tab. And if you wanted the lyrics, you had to figure them out by listening." And pausing your cassette to write them down.
Maybe. But kind of special to be among the very last generation of American teenagers who had to do things the hard way. Of course, even that is relative since I am also among the first generation who can't remember life before computers.
Ironically, Andrew's learning the same songs now that I did back then. The good news is, the songs haven't aged a bit.