Wednesday, October 05, 2016

My Son, This Old Guitar and Bittersweet Memories

 I grew up in the Rock and Roll era, listening to the music of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Creedence Clearwater, Ten Years After, Santana and all the other bands that summed up the greatest era of Rock and Roll, and perhaps music itself, than any other era. Along with that I loved those oldies, the Blues,Soul, R & B and Country & Western.

Having said that, there are no other songs from that time or any other artist, than John Denver, that can evoke a deep emotional longing for those days when my father was still alive, my mother was young and healthy and all was well with my sister, brother and me. It was a good time. We were still a family. We were still intact.

When I hear a song like “Country Roads” (My favorite by Denver) or Sunshine on my Shoulders” my mind and memories go back in time I want to reach back in time and hold all those people that were a part of my life back then. Sometimes I mourn what was. Bittersweet memories. I am not ashamed to say that I am sometimes moved to tears. But as the saying goes, “We can't go home again”.

It's hard for me to find anyone to admit they liked John Denver back in the day and I don't know why. I always enjoyed his music. The emotional response came later in my life as the past became a long ago and far away memory.

Denver's song “This Old Guitar”, in particular, while I always enjoyed listening to it, has become somewhat personal as well. Despite the fact that it has completely skipped over me, music is in the DNA of our family. My father and some of my uncles and aunts were musicians and singers, so was my grandfather and his brothers and the generation before them.

On my mother's side my uncle Richard played the guitar and he sang. My aunt Margaret could belt out a tune at a moments notice.

My son Andrew is a musician; a guitarist, a singer and a songwriter, plying his trade in Seattle, Washington. He is carrying on that grand old family tradition. It's in his DNA.

All that brings me to my real point of this story. About twenty-five years ago, due to my own carelessness and no one else, I lost my father's guitar. While, there are worse things in life than losing your father's guitar, it was still a traumatic loss for me. It was something he held dear and loved. Losing his guitar was like losing a piece of my father.

My grief was compounded when a few years later, while in his early teens, my son began to play the guitar. The guitar and the music he loved has become his life's passion. There is not a single day that goes by that I do not wish I could give my son his grandfather's guitar. “This Old Guitar” brings all that to mind.

I find some consolation in knowing that my father Andrew, lost his own father's guitar. I now understand his loss, and I have no doubt he understands mine. The guitar I lost was the guitar he bought to replace the one he lost. And the beat goes on.

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