Chris Johnson

Jimmy Buffett gave me guitar lessons

For Christmas last year, my wife gave me a beautiful new guitar. The poor girl labors under the impression that I'm some kind of musical genius.

Of course, that's understandable considering how I once wooed her with music. I didn't have a choice because once she found out I had a hand-me-down guitar, she demanded a performance.

Naturally, I wooed her as only I can. It was the holiday season, so I played and sang for her one of America's greatest holiday songs - "The Hanukkah Song" by Adam Sandler. Seriously.

Well, it won her heart - either because I really can play and sing just like Adam Sandler or she's a big Adam Sandler fan and I remind her of "The Waterboy" with the exception of having no athletic prowess whatsoever.

But I do have musical prowess. Some of it is hard to recognize. For instance, I can whistle better than any person on Earth, but only at that high-pitched level only dogs can hear. I once whistled "Dixie" and got attacked by four pit bulls. I can also play music with my hand in my armpit but strangely enough only Mozart's "Symphony No. 40 in G minor."

When it comes to guitar, I was trained by the great Jimmy Buffett. He taught me to play "Margaritaville," "Son of a Son of a Sailor" and approximately 100 other Buffett songs. He didn't do this in person, of course; I learned by playing along while listening to the songs. And please don't tell him he taught me because after barely being able to afford cheeseburgers at his Margaritaville restaurants, I'm fairly certain I can't afford his guitar lessons.

I still won't call myself a guitar player. My former co-worker Mike Owen once said after seeing guitar guru Andrew Zohn perform at CSU that he realized he was merely a guitar owner, not a guitar player. Mike is about 20 times better on the guitar than I am. I'm not even sure I should be allowed to own one. Some other folks might agree.

Except my wife, of course. And she's so inspired by my guitar playing, or owning, that she wants to learn. So, unlike Jimmy Buffett did for me, she's getting personal guitar lessons. And she has correctly figured out that she will need to toughen up her fingertips, cut her nails and grow seven more fingers on her left hand to play half the chords. I may have to put her back on the tambourine.

I've considered becoming a country music star, but I lack some of the street cred or, rather, dirt road cred to play real country music. Johnny Cash once sang, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die," but the worst I've ever done was bump into a guy while playing Keno.

It seems that being able to play about three chords, drive a truck, own a dog and swill some beer is all it takes to be a country star these days. I do own a truck and know way more than three chords. But I don't own a dog, though my wife does have a whiny cat. And I can't make the same claim as Billy Currington in his great song "Pretty Good At Drinkin' Beer."

However, I am pretty good at drinkin' margaritas. Jimmy Buffett taught me that, too.

-- Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent whose "Best of Chris Johnson" is now available for Kindle. Follow him at