I put my electric guitar away a long time ago and never got it back out. Nearly 30 years old, it’s been entombed inside a case inside a closet inside various houses for nearly half its life. It’s very pretty –- a cherry red 1962 reissue Fender Telecaster Custom with cream edging.
I took it out for an art/sound/nature event at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Last Saturday, those crazy IMA cats pulled together a three-part musical celebration of the fall equinox. (Seth Johnson wrote all about it last week.) One of the central events was E is for Equinox. Stuart Hyatt got about 70 local folks to grab their axes and amps and head out to nature.
But it wasn’t some giant-size campfire sing-along. We had practice tracks. There was a practice. I missed it, of course, but I claimed that I was still pretty handy with an E-chord, and they let me in. We had to show up an hour early. How they got that many guitar players to show up –- and an hour before the performance and having practiced –- was art in itself.
In the hour between arrival and performance, the diverse assortment of styles, ages and temperaments was clear based on the different styles of guitars and amps alone. The wanking during the warm-up time was reminiscent of a weekend morning at any guitar store. We were there for one mission: play one chord over and over, in specific time, together and sonically usher in autumn.
And we did. We nailed it.
I never intended to put my guitar away for so long. And its hasty entombment was clear when I took it out: It still had the general rock and roll grime and sweat marks on it from the last century. I’m not even certain that it was my grime and sweat marks, to be honest. It was also still in tune. When I put it away, I wanted to take a break after lots of bands that had quick starts, exciting middles and usually a disappointing end, sometimes with a ridiculous amount of drama attached. In the years that I played in bands, I did so with some of my best friends, which made those ends all the more depressing.
But playing again was fun, alongside friends, strangers, art administration colleagues and even one friend with whom I was once in a band. (Incidentally, I also played alongside a different friend with whom I am currently in an imaginary band made up of only people named Ben who play the banjo. We’re called “The Benjos.”) I’m not sure that the dads-who-used-to-play group that I suggested will happen, but I don’t want to keep my pretty Telecaster in the closet anymore. I don't want to go so long that my fingers hurt days later from playing just one song made of one chord for a couple of minutes. Somebody should ask me to jam. There, I said it.
The moral of this story: Don’t put good things away for too long. And, if you have, just go ahead and take them back out again -– especially when nice people offer you a good reason to let them see the light of day.
Here's the source of this post's title: