And..how was your Christmas?
Ours was filled with cheer and challenges but..in the words of Yoda..survive we did.
One of the major challenges for me was to make good on my promise to learn the guitar chords to “Ashokan Farewell” so that I could accompany my granddaughter, Zoey, when she made her annual holiday command family performance. I love that melody, written by Jay Unger and Molly Mason for the TV series, “The Civil War.” I thought it would be really fun and memorable if we could perform it together.
Now, even though I own a “Washburn” flattop, I haven’t played guitar in years and realized it would take considerable rehearsal time to get the music down. But what I’d forgotten is how painful the learning process can be.
Back in our youth, my cousin Grouse and I..dreaming of becoming Rock and Roll stars..would practice for hours on end in the bedroom I shared with two brothers. We’d spin 45 RPM records by The Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy, Elvis and Buddy Holly on my little phonograph..learning the progressions and lyrics so we could perform their hit songs in public.
Before we talked our parents into letting us buy electric guitars, we struggled along on a pair of Stella acoustic models in which the strings were way too high off the fret-board resulting in agonizing pain in our fingertips trying to press down hard enough to make the chord. Eventually, thick calluses formed on our fingers..which not only eased the pain of practice but impressed others (girls) who, with one look at our hands, could see how dedicated we were to Rock and Roll.
I eventually gave up the guitar after realizing..once The Beatles came along..Rock and Roll was evolving to more than knowing three or four chords in a few keys. So, I took up drums and never looked back. Well, not until this past month.
Thanks to the internet, I was able to not only find the music..but use an on-line tuner and listen to and practice with, several versions of the song on YouTube.
Then I thought of granddaughter Allison. Could she maybe join in on clarinet? She had one day to transpose the notes. The end result of our effort is far from perfect..mostly because I couldn’t see my chord chart for the tears in my eyes at the sublime joy of a grandfather’s pride.
Aside from Linda saying “Yes” 31 years ago, performing this little song with my granddaughters was the greatest Christmas present I’ve ever received.
Now that calluses have formed on my fingertips, I’ve decided to keep the old Washburn guitar upstairs in my man cave and take it out of the case more often.
I doubt if I’ll be ready to sing and play in night clubs anytime soon..but I have another granddaughter, Ella, who has taken up saxophone. I’m already thinking of a tune or two so she can join our little band next Christmas.