Saturday, March 16, 2013

Old Guitar

Songs have been written to inanimate objects before.  Nothing new there.  One of my son Colin's favorite singer-songwriters is Paul Baribeau.  He wrote a cool one called "Tablecloth".  Pearl Jam wrote "Spin the Black Circle".  Eddie Vedder sings, Pull it out/A paper sleeve/Oh, my joy/Only you deserve conceit.” It makes me want to to pull out my old vinyl.  Other songs are written from the perspective of inanimate objects.  My favorite is David Wilcox's "Rusty Old American Dream".  "Well I don't look all that ragged for all the time it's been.  But I'm weakened underneath me where my frame is rusted thin.  And this year's sate inspection I just barely passed.  Won't you drive me cross the country boy, this year could be my last."

One of my old favorites (this dates me - totally) is John Denver's "This Old Guitar".  "This old guitar taught me to sing a love song, it taught me how to laugh and how to cry..."  It's corny, but it's my corn.  It came from that special era for me, when I was learning how to play and getting up my nerve to sing in front of my friends (only my closest friends).  It was a hippie song and I could totally relate.  "...It helped me make it through some lonely nights.  What a friend to have on a cold and lonely night."

Here is one that I wrote.  It is very autobiographical - as I guess most songs are.  It is all of the times in my life when I carried an old guitar with me and sang for myself or for others.  Sometimes on my back, sometimes in an old cardboard case.  For my newest guitar I have a nice fairly new hardshell case.  But for my old one, I have this case that is held together with silver duct tape.  All of the hinges and latches are corroded.  My old Seagull guitar fits in there tight.  And while I have rigged up the handle (that is always the first thing to go) the case is still sound.  It'll probably outlive me.  I'll probably will it to my son Colin.  Or give it to my new/old friend Chris when my fingers are too stiff to play anymore.  He'll still have some miles left.   I know the old guitar will.

Old Guitar

You're the beach in the arms of a younger man,
Waves, tears, laughter and sand
You are lovers, tears and lullabies
You are the dark deep woods and quiet sleepy nights

Steel strings, sore fingers and a tired voice
You wash away the worries and the noise

You are campfire nights and smoke in my eyes
You are bare tree limbs and starflung skies
Whistling wind on a high sand dune
You are old folk songs with sweet simple tunes

You are memories of friends long gone
You fill my quiet nights with song

(BRIDGE) Much more than steel and wood
Much more than an empty box
You are snug in that battered old case
With its taped up edges and rusted locks

You're the meadow in a whispering wind
Sometimes only you can make me whole again
You're a brilliant moon on a clear cloudless night
Raindrops, teardrops, dawn's early light

Hot summer night and backporch blues
Folksongs, praisesongs, homegrown songs too
You are soft and forgiving and kind
And when I am wrong, you are fine
With you I can be lonesome but never alone

No - never alone

1 comment:

Chris Hass said...

I know just the case you're referring to! Mine has not seen so much wear and tear. Although this year someone in my classroom has taken to peeling back small sheets of the black finish revealing a white underbelly. It'll be the first place I tape - or sticker.

This is a good idea for future posts - What have you had for a long time that you'd be sad to replace? I have few I can think of right now. Do I buy too many things? Do I have too few things? Here's my list off the top of my head:

Acoustic guitar (no attachment to the electric or classical)


The walking stick Muluken found for me while hiking in Georgia. It's just that - a stick. But I've used it for almost all our 230 miles and would love to hang on to it for the whole journey.


Got it! I have a really, really old copy of To Kill a Mockingbird that my mom got from my grandparents and recently gave to me. That one is definitely irreplaceable.

And an old pair of Nike Pegasus that were once my favorite running shoes. They've since become walking shoes and then, sadly, lawn mowing shoes. They are back to being my walking shoes again despite the fact there are holes all over them. I can't say exactly why I love them so much but I do. I think I ran my first and only marathon in them. Maybe that's why.

I think that's it. The book, the guitar, the shoes, and the stick. That's not much. Perhaps I need to develop stronger attachments.