Friday, April 25, 2008
My mom wouldn't get it for me.
My aunt wouldn't get it for me.
Santa wouldn't even get it for me.
But my grandfather took the plunge. He bought me my first guitar.
I'm pretty sure that he did it for two reasons. First, because I had begged for it for years, claiming that the violin I had played since first grade wasn't very "cool."
Secondly, because he knew it would peeve the rest of my family.
Such an enabler.
But he bought the guitar for me, and gave it to me at my birthday party. Actually it was a combination birthday party which included my mom and I. Her birthday is coming up on May, 14. Mine is the 9th.
My grandfather heard my pleas for a guitar, and couldn't help himself. It's not that the rest of my family didn't want me to play guitar. They just wanted me to finish learning how to play violin. Needless to say, bringing projects to completion has never been my strong suit.
Regardless, I was given a learner guitar with six strings and six pegs and a sound hole and a pickguard and the inevitable inclination to become a rock and roll musician.
There goes the neighborhood.
I remember the first thing I played on it, too.
Yes, Taps. It can be played almost exclusively on the middle open strings. One note must be fretted, but the rest is quite simple. Simple for me, at the time.
I called up my girlfriend, Lisa Seridonio.
"I got a guitar!"
"I got a guitar! I got a guitar! I got a guitar! I got a guitar! I got a guitar! I got a guitar!"
"And I can already play it."
"Yes, way! Listen!"
And I played it for her: Taps. The saddest song in the world, but it was all I knew.
She loved it. I had done it. I had impressed a girl with my music.
I'm sure millions have nearly the same story as I. Only the song is different.
My grandfather had a few words of warning when it came to keeping me on the straight and narrow. He knew from musician friends of his what lay ahead for this budding troubador.
"Stay away from booze and drugs, Fred. It'll get you in a lot of trouble."
Man, was he right.
But he wanted me to be happy. He wanted me to have it all. He used to say he'd buy the moon for me if I wanted it.
Anything for Fred.
Music is one of the most powerful forces in the known universe. It can induce joy, sadness, regret, longing, envy, and contentment. It can brag. It can beg. It can ask a question no one can answer. It can bore. It can confuse. It can incite violence or it can quell a riot. It is limitless. It is confined. It is exact. It is approximate. It is personal. It is formal. It is objective. It is subjective. It is complex. It is simple. And it is everywhere, all the time, and it will never, ever stop.
And that's all you have to know.
This one's for you, Gramps.
Thanks for everything.
Love, your pal, Fred
Posted by F. Alex Johnson at 4/25/2008 06:57:00 PM