After more than a decade, the old guitar of a friend long gone has made it home to the nest.
As with any tool that comes with fingerprints of the loved and departed on it, the first were replaced in a special way. Being conscious of the gravity of a moment makes it its own little ceremony. In this case sweet memories of good times, some cheap grapey merlot, and 12 year old strings bent once more for some good blues... a music he liked and a proper handing off in physical absentia for it to be continued. If a man could be cloned from crusty finger cheese off an old customized Kay guitar I would not – his time was his time and believe you me a time was HAD.
You hang around and among the sunrises and quests and laughter, people go… what is left of any of us really comes down to ripples and fingerprints. The ripples, tangible only in results in and motion forward through lives like so many seeds in gardens casually tossed as we go… and fingerprints. What did they touch? To put my fingers there in the continuing life of the tool or the task, even waves reshape as they claim the footprints from the shore. This is a moment of great respect, a last and a first, an end and a beginning. I absorb your dust into my livity. I will finish burning that candle. I will use that tool. I will play this guitar with the strings still on it from the last notes he played – a continuation of his song. A hand off like in jazz when the trumpet is lowered and backed away from the spotlight and the sax player steps forward, takes a deep breath, and begins.
Out from under the bed it came – more closure for all involved. Besides it being the guitar I most associated with him because of his modifications to the headstock (it got its feathers in wood on its headstock about the same time I got mine in ink on my arm), and it being a quirky and fragile old piece that will be fun to play with, the magic for me really is what’s all over it and crusted up and down those rusty strings. What a gift those fingerprints are, to have more after so long. We have the honor to touch their traces one more time. In the Jewish tradition when you visit someone’s grave, you put your little pebble on the headstone. This says “I am here – I visited. You mean something and you are not forgotten.”
Though more talisman than tool, I will replace the broken high E string and start playing this old guitar back to life after its long rest – picking it up, holding it, chording and soloing where he chorded and soloed. I will – after what to the universe may have been a blink or a quick fill and the crash of a cymbal - step up, take a deep breath... and begin.
Listening to: Lots of vinyl, in addition to a pretty steady https://krtu.trinity.edu/ diet. Spirit Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus; Stanley y su Guitarra Spanish & English Instrumentals; Guy Clark Old No. 1; Gordon Lightfoot If You Could Read My Mind; Neil Young On The Beach; War Why Can’t We Be Friends; and Charlie Daniels Band Nightrider, which turned out to be a SMOKIN’ Allman-esque blaze of dual guitar southern rockin’ excellence from 1975. And also helping me through this very hot, very productive week has been the old Heart Greatest Hits and – of course – Aerosmith Rocks... a wonderful album to build things to.