How much joy can I express in printed words that describe the ultimate high in life…to play music that moves the soul and spirit; a life long dream since I was 6 years old. I have had vivid dreams of recording a record or an album (a CD nowadays). The year of 2002 was the year a life long dream was fulfilled. I recorded a CD in my new basement on my home computer recording studio that I am very proud of. The melodies are soothing harmonic melodies. Some originated from right in the midst of the crack cocaine despair and hoping to find some peace. Then some emotions from other events surfaced through the guitar while I was messing around and my door to serenity was wide open and I was running through it this time.
When I was 5 years old I saw a guitar in the window of a store called D & C- 5 & 10 store. It costs $4.95. I went home and soon earned the money. My mother brought me to buy it and that was the start. She bought a book that had some pictures of chords and exercises and she showed me how to pluck the top string with a pick and strum down on the rest…pluck-strum strum, it was a C chord or at the time sort of a C chord. I liked it and was on my way to playing guitar. I had lessons and played in a lot of places in life by the time I was 13.
At the age of 29 I smoked crack cocaine. Playing guitar was not on life’s list anymore. I pawned my one prize possession in life…my 1958 double cut away Sunburst finish with circle fret marks Gibson ES-330 or 335, I am not positive which number exactly, but it was a dream guitar bought by my parents for my 11th birthday from just a guy going to Vietnam and was so sad to sell it. They bought it for $150. I pawned it for the last time for $75, to smoke crack, and I never was able to get it back. I have nightmares about this. It is a deep regret of mine as far as a thing I wished I really had now that I have actually done a CD. I still cry over this one. Life’s irony. The thought of not having my guitar and the reason why, keeps me humble. Just another bad crack memory.
In 1983 I had 7 guitars and stuff. From 1985 through 1997 I did not have 1 guitar or even think of playing or even wanted to. Looking back, it is clear that during this time my soul and spirit were empty, very empty.
In my last confined facility, (a work release program) ironically a guitar showed up. I brought in some new strings that had just been given to me by a guy that bought a hot-tub at the factory I worked at just out of the blue…ironically these are the ONLY strings I can use on this guitar. Every Saturday in the pool room I would get to play uninterrupted or hassled for about hour and a half. This lasted about 10 months. The last 3 months there, the guitar was locked up because some moron did something to ruin what was a decent thing. I was very eager to get a guitar now that I got a taste of playing again.
While in this facility I would play some blues and some classical pieces, and try and get some peace from playing. A tiny little seed was planted then, to again pursue playing the guitar. It was a magnet. Truly a healthy obsession. It was a direction that I put my time into this time. Grew up and decided to do something with my life and feelings. I let it go to God as I have heard said so many times from so many people in so many different ways, its head spinning. I just sat down and said, “God, if playing guitar is my door to serenity, please I want to go through it. Play through me. Help me find a way to express my new found freedom and share it and most of all keep it.”
Some of my new inspiration came from my long time hero of guitar playing-Phil Keaggy. At a local concert/clinic (with a ticket given to me by my wife for my birthday present) he shared some tips on how he went about playing. One thing he said was to go and tune your guitar to how it sounds good to you and let the guitar and the tuning take over, let it guide you. I did the minute I walked in the door and tuned my guitar to some really different sounds and just went for it. Some cool stuff started to happen.
My life had gotten to a point where I had some solid clean time playing my guitar. I would practice late at night and into the early hours of morning while my daughter and now pregnant wife slept. All together I would say I played on average 20-25 hours a week for 18 months. A whole lot better than being in the madness. This was a time for my soul and spirit to solidify their position in my physical existence. Finally true serenity. Another prayer answered. Today when I play guitar I feel complete serenity. A oneness. Complete. Ten feet tall and bazooka proof. Relaxing……Amazing.
When I was right in the middle of despair and sitting on the fifth floor in the facility I have mentioned before, with tears in my eyes, praying for some relief and then to start playing the song “I’m Sorry”. I felt I now had a way to communicate without speaking. By now my words were worthless anyway, along with all the broken promises. To say I’m sorry was pointless, but playing it felt like a start back to reality. Unfortunately it was just that, a start.
I do a lot of “Looking Back” and it does help me stay focused on the right now, especially when the bad crack memories push their way to the front of all thoughts and then I have to quickly move them to the here and right now thoughts as to how is my life right now. Otherwise they occupy too much space in my head…again the psychological pull of crack cocaine is the monster we are talking about.