Thursday, July 1, 2010

So Long Old Friend

Well, I recently lost a dear friend of mine to old age (and some abuse). No, I am not speaking of old Henry down at the care center; I'm speaking of my dear old acoustic guitar. A crack in the neck of the guitar became a large gap, causing the strings to want to pull away from the fretboard.

For many reasons, I don’t really consider myself a true “guitar player.” First of all, I only know the guitar well enough to play rhythm guitar—and even then, I really only know how to play one type of rhythm really well: Jamaican based rhythms such as ska and reggae. What I know how to play, I can play quite well, but it is quite limited. In addition, I don’t know scales, so I can’t play solos. Also, I don’t know the names of the chords that I play. I play entirely by ear and memory. This was kind of hard for past band members that I worked with, but they got used to my unorthodox ways, and we worked great together.

But if this is all true then why, you ask, do I care that my old acoustic guitar is no more? Well, when I started playing guitar at age 18 (more fully at 21), I did so with the sole intent of writing music. That’s all I wanted out of the guitar originally, was a way to write music and play it, and not to play the guitar for the sake of playing it. In a way the guitar just served a utilitarian purpose. However, somewhere along the way I grew to love my guitar. I grew to love it because it enabled me to do what I love to do—write music and play it.

That guitar has been through a lot with me; I have written songs on it during the best and worst times of my life for the last 10 years, reflecting many aspects of my life. I am proud of some of the songs that I have written—not proud objectively, as in I feel that the songs compare well with the songs of others—but proud subjectively, as in I see some of my music as a personal accomplishment.

The death of my guitar is the end of a chapter. I am now taking over my wife’s old guitar. Hopefully it brings with it the same kind of inspiration that my old guitar seemed to.