One Hearty Tree

It’s all made of other stuff but justice is done to inspiration by going for some measure of originality. If not a new vision then some new version that hasn’t been done. We’re each one of these as well, regardless of how time and circumstance - life - may fit us to a mold and put us in a line. There are moments, for better or worse, when one knows for absolute certain they are more different than most.

Take Thursday. Incense fills the air from the morning ceremony as blue zone begins, the crack of dawn mostly appearing in shapes of tree branches out the window. An album is spinning on the turntable in assembly, “Dance To The Music Of Lester Lanin” – this was not part of the ceremony, it happened just after (let’s not be absurd) - and I’m not dancing, thank God. Take the strings or sticks out of my hand and I’m rhythmically blanched; I dance like a medical emergency. The "Big band" blasts while rounds are done on a pair of Shortbasses – neck screws, copper line the cavities, fit the strap buttons, tuning machines, ground wires, bridges… and early sunrise happens to the subsequent sounds of Captain Beyond from 1972. Quite a segue I know, this is my point. It was a great night shift and I think I might just be the only one on the planet still in yesterday’s clothes going from Eastern mantra to Lester Lanin to Captain beyond at sunrise in the woods of rural Texas putting together short scale bass guitars. I pondered the gravity of that, munching on a fig. The day had just begun. 

This week was something – a big week for the heart, as it came time to cut into the big slab of Wimberley cypress. It came down with so many others during the flood of 2015 when our peaceful and beautiful Blanco River violently rose, stripping its banks of structures, homes and huge, glorious cypress trees hundreds of years old. Wise elder shade trees this town, heck this country, was built up around. Washing down the river with bridges and vehicles and other things too painful to think about. River tragedies are oddly shaped at times; other than the big rain the real damage was only maybe a hundred yards wide. Outside the mud and debris strewn high water line, everything appeared fine. But there are parts – and people – portions of the soul of this town that will never recover... or even be recovered. Some of the trees were rescued and slabbed out and here in October of 2016 I stood facing this amazing piece of being brought out onto the workshop deck, so long so peaceful and now so symbolic of so much else, and it’s my job to bring it back to life. To give it voice to sing. To reconfigure it into new beauty and its next chapter. Facilitating this reincarnation is as close to playing God as I’ll ever get, and I offer it with respect to all lives lost during that dark night.

So now, in the sunshine of a new day, hope manifests in the transition that has already happened; in this moment it’s no longer a downed tree, but several musical instruments to be – waiting to be freed from the slab. They will forever be one yet dispersed like ripples out to fill the world with music. First out of the cypress is a lap steel to sing the blues and spirituals; that seems appropriate. Then a second steel, and guitar & bass shapes. I have enough for three or four builds unclaimed; if you’d like to have a fantastic bass or truly unique guitar crafted for you from some very special wood, get in touch. This is the only cypress of its kind I’ll likely ever work with. I’m making myself a guitar, bass and steel – perhaps there’s even someone out there that would like a similar set of their own choices.

You can follow along as these and others morph from plank to pickin’ on the BIILDS page and also on Facebook – find & friend Scott Beckwith, like & subscribe to Birdsong Guitars. Have a great weekend, love the life around you, and fill it with music – for you, for all of it, and in the place of those who can no longer – because you’re still here and can. Time is short and life is beautiful; make something happen. And if that means dancing like you’re having your own personal earthquake, let it all hang out.

Two late developments of note - all of us send our best hopes and thoughts to those over on the east coast dealing with the hurricane, and I personally wish to extend my thanks in memoriam to - and condolences to the family of - automotive journalist in the highest Brock Yates, who has passed. If any of you enjoy my little writings, it is as much Brock and the late David E. Davis who, like Clapton and Page to young guitarists, turned out to be huge influences on what I do in my own way here. Brock was the father of the Cannonball races in the '70s which became a string of cheeseball movies that make Smokey & The Bandit look like high art, but that history and his writings in automotive publications through the decades are well worth the time spent. Having burned incense for the Most High it's only fitting now to go burn some rubber for Yates. Have a great weekend everyone.


Listening to: Mississippi Fred McDowell live; Boyd Rivers; Dance To The Music Of Lester Lanin; Lee Ritenour Rit; Captain Beyond Captain Beyond.