Why Liona Boyd had to relearn the guitar late in her career
Liona Boyd is known as The First Lady of the Guitar. She has released 28 albums. Her second memoir is called No Remedy for Love and it traces her post-divorce life and how she changed guitar techniques after being diagnosed with a little-understood condition due only to overplaying an instrument called musician's focal dystonia. Her memoir is accompanied by an album of the same title.
A change in tone
"My first autobiography ended in 1998. For the second book I thought, 'It's time for a new autobiography to explain a lot of things in my life.' No Remedy for Love is a bit more reflective, a little more analytical with not quite as much drama as the first book. I'm really pleased that I could tell my story because there are many interesting things that happened to me – I got divorced, I had to reinvent myself as a singer and change my whole guitar technique. I tell the truth in my books; it's not fake news, it's not fake anything – it's from the heart. It's been a long time since I began my career in the 70s and I just wanted to share."
Adjusting to adversity
"I had a condition that occurs when you repeat the same motion over and over again. I was famous for a technique called tremolo where the fingers make rapidly firing little motions. I would do it mindlessly while watching TV with my former husband. I knew something was wrong; I wasn't playing up to my standards. I would go back to my hotel after giving a concert and just sob because I knew I was losing my technique – I didn't understand it at the beginning. I went from doctor to doctor, from scientology to witch doctors to crazy hypnotherapists. I was in despair and I spent every day trying to figure out what was wrong with my hands. There is no real solution other than redoing your technique very slowly. And that's what I did – I took six years off from performing, slowly reworked my technique and I found a duo partner from Croatia who helped me sing and arrange songs. Now I can still play the guitar and we still do some classical pieces, but it's different. I don't play the difficult concertos – mostly it's the songs I write myself."
Liona Boyd's comments have been edited and condensed.