You have to put in the work to learn the basics. After that, you’re off the clock. The keyword: You are PLAYING the guitar. Recall the times when you got into the flow while doing something and time and the clock didn’t matter. Chances are you were PLAYING. Creative people and young children do this without conscious effort—the rest of us schmucks who put in a lifetime of WORK measure our effort and our reward in terms of the number of hours that we chalk up toward that next paycheck, the next vacation, the final retirement party.
Slave under the clock for a lifetime and that becomes the measure of effort and success. Unfortunately, creative activity is not necessarily measured on that ledger sheet. You get few points if your only goal is to clock in for x number of hours with your guitar lessons. Playing an instrument is measured by the music you make, not the number of hours of rote practice beyond mastering the basics. That kind of pressure will drain all the fun from the activity. If you don’t get in your time, you’ll beat yourself up and eventually say the ‘hell with it.’ Look at all the people who had to take piano lessons and practice for ‘X’ hours every week and grind their way through rote learning. Kids who took to the lessons but kept the wonder of making music stayed with it—while everyone else ran outside to PLAY ball.
If you are not at the point where you want to grab that guitar just because you just have to make joyful sounds and marvel at what comes out—you need to let go and find the joy. Next time you come across an artist, ask them how long it took them to paint that picture, write that novel, build that piece of furniture. Chances are they will freeze as they try to calculate an answer—mainly because that wasn’t part of the equation while they were in the zone and creating. For the creations that they are truly proud of, time was not the consideration. It was an annoyance. You mentioned that “A problem is I get side tracked big time. I'll start something and then go off on a tangent and get lost. As my wife politely puts it... I'm not a linear thinker.” Don’t take any scolding for doing that—it’s the essence of making a creative connection with your chosen medium. Being creative is a non-linear activity. I was learning the piano piece ‘Werewolves of London’–it uses a simple D-C-G chord progression (over-and-over again). By changing things up a little, I ‘found’ the opening for ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ and then ‘Knockin on Heaven’s Door’ all with the same chord progression. That’s no biggie in the scheme of things. . . but I sure enjoyed myself with the discovery. Can you think of any three songs with a wider range of messages, musical style, etc?
There’s a whole world of guitar that should open up for you now that you got the E Blues. Now, just need to work on letting yourself go and feeling where the basics that you have mastered show up in a song. In that ‘Blues’ lesson that you posted, he shows a couple of fills, licks, etc that are embedded everywhere in all kinds of songs—learn those turnarounds and your 12 bar blues progression and you can jam on rhythm guitar with anyone. The lessons on ‘Jerry’s Guitar Bar’ and ‘Justin Blues lessons’ will go a long way in filling in the basics.
You mentioned Delbert McClinton—one of my favorites is ‘You were never mine.’ That song sends a chill down anyone who ever felt the pain in the lyrics. Take a look at the guitar player and how he is playing the chords arpeggio style—the piano player is adding fills and banging on the chord changes. Overall it is a simple song if you allow yourself to feel the progression.
If you get sidetracked no problem—make it your song. With feelin’. LOL