|My acoustic guitar and my 1966 Fender Bandmaster.|
I picked up the guitar last night before I went to sleep while my wife laid in bed with her computer, writing lesson plans. Without going into details, I stumbled through, a Merle Haggard song, "If We Make It Through December", The Beatles, "This Boy", and "Slow Down!"
It's not like riding a bike!
I remember spending practically half our holiday vacation with our SoCal friends, a few years back, working on that specific song. My friend bought his daughter a really nice, cherry red, Fender Strat, which eventually disinterested her. Personally, I think he bought it for himself, but that's another story for another time. I had that song down pat, including all the heart felt inflections Merle put into it.
Last night, I could barely remember the intro.
Why am I mentioning all this? Well, that morning I met a real estate agent to discuss the sale of a small corner lot in LaCombe, LA. It was time to get serious about the property which had been for sale for about seven months or so. We planned to meet at a local Starbucks.
I was late. She was even later.
Over a venti dark roast, we exchanged profiles and niceties. We talked about the property and she gave me the big sell complete with her credentials. When I inquired for more details about her past, just to get a better feel for her expertise, she tells me all about her musician days; what she did, who she performed with, traveling the world with her Gibby L-3 acoustic guitar which her dad gave to her at the age of thirteen.
Well, that was all I needed to know to hire her.
"Okay, okay, enough of this business stuff," I said. "Tell me more about the kind of music you once played and how you survived as a woman playing music, soloing from one gig to another in a time when only "folksies" allowed females to play like that!"
We spent the next hour, sipping coffee and telling tales of gigs gone by, musicianship, favorite guitars to play, and lots of backstage shenanigans. We talked about crazy stuff, like creating your own vibrato in songs like "Anyway, You Want It!" We both cracked up when she asked me if I ever sang some guitar parts instead of playing them.
"Oh yeh,' I said with a little bit of embarrassment."Like the song byThe Young Rascals called,"Good Lovin", I said."It's impossible to play that instrumental part without a band behind you because it sounds so thin."
"You use to play that song?"she asked. "I loved that group!"
So, here we are, two fifty or sixty plus year olds, just playing and laughing like ten year old kids. I loved every minute of it. I asked her if she still played gigs anymore, and she told me of a restaurant called, "Cosmos," where she and her husband currently play every third Wednesday night of the month. She and her husband are looking for a good, solid bass guitarist "that knows all the tunes."
We had a ball that morning and left vowing to keep in touch. We sealed the deal with a C#maj7... smooth!
That Friday evening, it was late, but Tee was still up correcting papers and writing lesson plans on her laptop. I was restless as could be. I was exhausted from the day, but not at all sleepy. I thought about checking the scores, or reading a book on the B-24 bomber. Then, I stared at my guitar and thought about my conversation with the realtor. My Guild, D-55, which I bought back in 1978, stared back at me like it always does, and has since 2001. The closest I come to playing it, is dusting it. It is an icon to a past I'd just soon forget.
My 1966 Fender Bandmaster amp, big and beautiful, but not as powerful as it looks, stands proud and shiny, just begging me to flip on the red light. The last time I used it was for a disastrous Christmas gathering with my family way back in 2004. I stunk. My hands hurt. I couldn't remember some of the words or the chords to even the simplest Christmas tunes. I must have been wasted on eggnog! It was clear to me, I would never again be that bad in front of anybody.
Moving on from Merle, I jumped from one guitar ride to another kinda free associating one lick for another and timidly singing... no, mumbling the words to "Brown Eyed Girl", "Honey Don't", "Born to Run,""Born On A Bayou," and "I Feel A Whole Lot Better," I played for about an hour, "skipping' and a jumping'" until my uncalloused fingers hurt.
My wife, who once sang and played a ukelele in a family girls group said, "You never do finish an entire song anymore, do you?"
It sent me back to a time when we were first married driving up and down Acadiana singing, "If I Fell." I sang it straight while she sang the counter part that Lennon sang in that song. She was always in tune.
"I know,"I said, putting my baby back on it's' stand."I really don't know what that is."
I, then, turned off the light, rolled away from her computer's blue glow, and fell to sleep.
Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III