Friday, August 7, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Posted by Bill of the Birds at 5:39 PM
One of the casualties of the recent trip to Trinidad and Tobago was my travel guitar. The headstock cracked off my Martin Backpacker guitar (again). About five years ago I slammed it in a van door, snapping off this rather important part, rendering it unplayable. A local luthier glued it back together and it played as good as new. That is, until I got the bright idea to take it along to the tropics on a trip where there would be some musically oriented fellow travelers. This could have been an installment of that Saturday Night Live skit for "Bad Idea Jeans."
This guitar, the Martin Backpacker, was made to travel. Before it lost its head, this guitar looked a bit like a kayak paddle and sounded only a little better. Unless I could plug it into and amp and use some effects to juice up its sound, the Backpacker was mostly just good enough for some casual, quiet picking and playing. Its sound was thin and tinny. But when there was no other guitar available, I was certainly glad to have this one along. I'd played her outside, inside, and in at least eight different U.S. states, plus one foreign country.
And speaking of that foreign country...
The glue in the guitar's head mend hated the hot, hot heat and the heavy humidity of Trinidad and Tobago. Somewhere between Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Speyside, Tobago, she gave up the ghost. I was sad but accepting. She'd been under such strain lately, what with the medium strings I'd put on her, and the sing-along pop songs we'd played in the van on the road from Matura Beach. Ah, she'd lived a good life, but that life was, sadly, now over.
The thought flitted across my mind like a tortoise-shell pick across a newly tuned high E: maybe I should leave her where she died.
She was American-made and her remaining pieces should, by all rights, be returned to her place of birth. So I carted her lifeless, headless, tuneless body back home on a series of jets, her head still attached to her body by the now-silent and flopping A, D, G, and B strings.
Someday I may strip off her useful parts: thinline pick-up, tuners, strap knobs, and commit her body to the flames. But for now, she's resting in a corner of the basement. She shares that cool, dark space with all of her friends—my numerous other guitars. Now that she's gone, I'm sure they'll miss her, too.
The last song I played on my little Backpacker was "Goodnight Irene." So I guess that was her actual name: Irene. Goodnight, old gal. I'll see you in my dreams...
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