MamaCharlie told me the other night, "You haven't written anything about your guitars and music". I agreed, I haven't. Other than an aside now and then. So I thought I would. Here goes:
One day a few years ago, Toothache's wife asked to borrow all of our home videos. She wanted to copy them or something. I said "Sure!" and never gave it another thought.
A few months later we stopped at Humbordt's (my number two son) house. He proudly trotted out his new guitar. It was a beautiful, coffee-colored Ibanez hollow-body electric. He allowed me to play it for a while and it was fantastic; even un-amplified it had a great sound and easy action as smooth as a little baby's swat target. I reluctantly gave it back and told him that I was really happy for him, and jealous. I have always wanted one like that.
A couple of months later it was my birthday. The kids all came over and we were sitting around gabbing when Tammy (Toothache's wife) said it was time to bring it in. I didn't know what "it" was, but they all got quiet and gathered around. The first thing they handed me was a CD case with a picture of a guitar neck and two hands on it, a little child's hand and what appeared to be an old man's hand. But at almost the same moment, Humbordt came to the top of the stairs with a box, a uniquely-shaped box, the kind that’s used to ship a guitar. I set the C D aside and opened the box to find a hollow-body electric guitar in an almost turquoise finish. It was beautiful. I couldn't believe it. I took it out of the box and put it on my lap. It was in tune and ready and I fell in love immediately. It was smoother, sweeter, and had better action than Humbordt's Ibanez. It was a color I had never seen on any guitarbefore. And it was mine.
The rest of the world just sort of faded into the background while I banged out of few of my old standards. I kept hearing people saying things like, "Make him look at it" and "He doesn't realize what it is" and "You're gonna have to show him." Finally I came up for air and looked around at all the amused faces tryiing to get me to look at the CD. I had thought that the CD was probably all of our home videos burned onto a CD, which would have been a great present, but they told me I had to look at it.
What it turned out to be was one of the most precious gifts anyone has ever given me. It is a music CD that contains about ten songs that I had played for the kids as they grew up, or songs we had listened to together or played and sang along to in the car....each one selected because it meant something special to one or the other of them. It even had one cut of MamaCharlie singing Joan Baez's "Diamonds and Rust". They had recorded them in Humbordt's basement recording studio; they had played all the instruments and sang all the songs and each had written a paragraph to include in the "liner notes". The girls had each sung a song solo (MamieLady sang "Scarborough Fair" and Boogie sang a Selena song - “Siempre Hace Frio”, in Spanish of course, that always makes her big he-men brothers cry) and teamed up on "I Still Miss Someone". The boys did "Tennessee Flattop Box”, “Seven Spanish Angels” featuring Toothache and Tammy, “Day Tripper” and acouple of others, they even had the grandkids sing a couple of silly kid songs and squeal for me.
But the things that they said in the liner notes were the most precious part of the gift. Each one shared why they had picked a particular song and what it had meant to them to have so much music in our family, both the kind you play on a record or CD and the kind you make yourself. It touched me so deeply to read how they felt about our family, our life together, and our music.
What made this such an unexpected gift was the fact that just the year before, after I had lamented that I didn’t have an electric guitar to play with anymore, Boogie had moved out and took the last one with her and Toothache and Tammy bought me an Epiphone electric. Tammy found it on E-bay for a ridiculously low price (I still don’t know how much that was). It is a 1970 model that had been completely re-conditioned. I thought it was brand new when they gave it to me. Two dream guitars in a year!
Later, days later, Humbordt told me that when the blue guitar arrived, he took it out and made sure everything worked and tuned it up. He told Toothache, “Why don’t we give dad my Ibanez and I’ll keep this one! This one is SWEEEEEET”.
I have had Blue for a few years now. It has been played almost every day. Because I have it, I have rekindled my desire to learn and do more with it. Every now and again I pull out the CD cover and read the notes. I love my family.