Guitars are magical things to me. Wailing like a crying woman, they can put you in touch with the sorrow the player feels. Strutting like the proudest peacock, guitars can bring you to your feet, even if you can't dance. If you're fortunate enough to master these mystical boxes of wood with steel strings,
you can speak to the hearts of your audience with pure emotion to back up your softly sung
words, if you bother to speak. Sometimes the music alone says it all.
Of the many things my father tried to teach me, guitar playing was the skill I most wanted to learn.
No one, so far as I know, will pay a penny to watch one cut tobacco or whittle. Sit on a bench almost
anywhere in America strumming on your old Sears Silvertone and people will throw money in your hat. After a few years of practice, you might be playing clubs or Carnegie Hall, depending on your level of talent. As the song says, it helps "if you get in with the right bunch of fellows."
Watching my Dad's fingers fly across the strings in the magic patterns I now know to be chords, I was fascinated and frustrated at the same time. Fascinated by the rhythm of the music that spoke to
my heart, I was frustrated that my small hands couldn't reproduce the sweet sounds I heard. All my siblings could play. Why couldn't I? Usually, I'd wind up fleeing to the woods, sounding cursing the
Sears Silvertone with the childish "Darn you, you cheap, good for nothing guitar," that comprised
my immature rants. My adult rants are much better. No matter how I tried, nothing more complex than
Mary Had A Little lamb, would emanate from the strings in my hands, and that excruciatingly painful to even my ears. As my father, my siblings, my uncles and even my grandmother demonstrated to me, the guitar was not at fault. As with most everything in my life, when you get down to it, the fault was in me. Everyone of them could take that cheap, good for nothing guitar and produce glorious sounds, from rockabilly to country. Like most hot headed children, I couldn't see that I needed practice and guidance. I said to myself, if I couldn't play anything better than Mary Had A Little Lamb, even after spending my hard earned cash on Ed Sale's guitar method, I wouldn't play anything at all. Besides,
I had other things to do. Becoming a world famous writer takes a lot of time and effort, you know.
Now had I continued to practice, I might have some day gotten to the point that dogs and small
children wouldn't flee the sound of my guitar renderings. It's too bad I didn't. Every time I hear Jackson
Brown, Johnny Rivers or Mark Knopfler on guitar, my fingers curl and I pluck imaginary strings. Maybe, just maybe, I might break out one of my favorite Yamaha guitars in the middle of the night and give it another shot. If I do, keep the kiddies in the house and the dogs chained up, otherwise they might run away to flee the wailing of my poor APX guitar being strangled by unlearned fingers. Mine.