Heather’s New Home
This post is not about stray animals, although we love them. We have all we can handle, and should not take on any more if we want to stay in the good graces of the neighbors. Musical instruments are another matter.
Take this new one I ran across. I couldn’t help but fall in love. She was a broken down little tenor guitar, and needed a home so bad. We took her in and nurtured her like a lost puppy, and she has found new life. We named her Heather, after a line in an Irish tune.
A couple years ago, I helped a fellow with his CD. He played dulcimer and wanted a few mandolin tracks. I was happy to oblige. He offered to pay me, but I knew his project was on a tight budget and I wanted to help him out and do it professional courtesy.
People don’t forget though. I was looking for a tenor guitar to play with Al Donnelly, an Irish folk singer I sit in with every so often. My dulcimer friend heard and gave me a call.
“Hey Doc, I hear you are looking for a tenor guitar.”
“Yeah. Al would like some of that sound in his Celtic work. I haven’t seen one in years.”
“Well have I got a deal for you. I found one. You want it?”
“I’d love to look at it. How much do you want for it?”
“It’s not for sale, but I’d love to give it to you.”
“I couldn’t let you do that.”
“You might change your mind when you see it. It has been in my attic for years. The thing is in pieces. I forgot it was up there, but I saw it the other day and thought of you. If you can put it back together you’re welcome to it.”
It was in bad shape sure enough. The neck hung by a thread and was bowed like a ski slope. A couple of frets and a tuning key were lost to posterity. There were several cracks and it was covered in tar and splatters of paint from when they remodeled their house.
“She’s beautiful. We’ll take it.”
I had some old Stew-Mac banjo tuners at the house. I put all of it in a cardboard box at took it down to Johnny’s Music. Our local guitar guru opened the package and pulled out the pieces with tender care.
“I agree Doc . She needs a new home. Yeah, I can put her back together.”
“Hmn. Fifty bucks and one office visit.”
The ‘Harmony’ decal is half gone, and the lower bout has a huge crack we didn’t try to repair since it got auto-sealed with roof tar. We couldn’t get out all of the splotches of paint. It has nicks and gouges and probable bar room battle scars. Lord if she could only talk.
But then again she does talk her language. Tenor guitar is tuned in fifths like a mandola, and has a dark lonesome sound. When you play ‘Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?’ it is, to borrow a line from my friend Wayne Benson, about as Celtic as man can get if he grew up two blocks from Burger King.
I played it this morning. The thing looks like you drug it home tied to the rear bumper of your car. We believe it dates back to the 40s, but is only worth about $75.00 on the market, though much more to me. After all, Heather is like a stray pup and now part of the family. She is a mutt, but they are always the best ones.
Here is the chorus to ‘Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?’
“And we’ll all go together
To pull wild mountain thyme
All around the blooming heather
Will ye go, lassie, go?”