When I was little my dad and I always sang the blues. He would riff on his 1970’s Guild and I would make up song lyrics, one of my greatest hits being “The Zucchini Blues”, which was sent to friends and family across the nation. As I grew older I became embarrassed to sing with him and the guitar wasn’t seen as often.
At 15 I left home, and went to California. Being so young, no one would rent to me, so I camped instead. My dad stepped in, driving the old Pace Arrow out to the coast and leaving me the keys. Inside I found the old guitar. I would wake up in the morning, and try to play sounds, some familiar; some new. I looked up chords. My little fingers ached every night from the heavy strings and pushing pushing, sliding and sliding. I would sit on the beach and sing my songs and wish I hadn’t let my ego, or pride get in the way of connecting with my dad.
I brought this guitar everywhere. Amtraks, greyhounds, state to state. I even tried to bring it to Bonnaroo, atop the SUV, and it somehow survived The Accident. But the weight of that Ford Explorer compromised its sound, and it was never the same. Always sounding off-key.
The Accident changed me too- I was heavily medicated and didn’t care so much about my music. I had found other ways to find release, the sweet smoke from a pipe, the burn of powder in my nose, the warm surge of heroin in my veins.
But still I brought my Guild with me. Living in my car, the Guild took the backseat. It was a part of me that I couldn’t really sense any more, an inanimate object suddenly, and when I caught its reflection in my rear view mirror it filled me with regret.
One day I needed a break from the road, I needed a shower. I had met someone who offered their floor to me. I brought the Guild, and my few belongings, and it was here that I got lost. Days went by, reality getting stranger and stranger as my mind slowly went. I met a beautiful girl in this house, young and soft. The more time we spent together, I realized how similar we were. Except she had been on the road much longer than me. I saw how she fed, clothed and medicated herself. Scary things were sounding like options. Things began taking violent twists and turns, a culmination of drugs and psychosis, and an angry strange man who had too much power over two young girls. My keys were taken from me and I became aware that it was fight, flight or freeze- and that I had to escape. I feared what would come next. My guitar lay, waiting for the strings to be replaced, a project started in the night and never finished. I thought of the girl, and of the Guild. I stole my keys back and crept out the door when I found the chance, and drove away, not looking back.
I wonder if my guitar still plays the blues…