26 January 2006


He, she or it - I think I prefer "she" - hangs on the wall in a corner of our back room. I bought her perhaps eight years ago. She's an Almansa classical guitar made in Spain by Manuel Rodriguez - number 2012. I loved her smooth tone from the moment I first played her. She's only the second guitar I have ever owned.

I bought my first guitar when I was fifteen with part time money I earned at a turkey farm. There were hundreds of them, turkeys not guitars, white-feathered and identical. You'd bring sacks of feed into the sheds to top up the feeding hoppers and they'd be at you, pecking at your legs. In nightmares you'd see yourself stumbling in the wood shavings and they'd be on top of you - suffocating, pecking the life out of you.

That first guitar is upstairs. My son plays it from time to time. I took it to the other side of the planet, played it through university, made many songs with its help. Sometimes it sat there untouched for months and then I would return to it, picking it up each day, enjoying the relationship between my fingers, those strings and the words and tunes in my head. It was also a classical guitar. I never got used to narrow necks and with large fingers I guess I'm resigned to the easy width of the classical fretboard.
In the last year or so, I seem to always have my capo on the third fret. The sweeter tone has brought a whole new bunch of songs out of me. Mostly I play the songs for myself. I might play them alone at night with some beer in my belly and sometimes that's the best time, the words and the chords melding together in a magical whole which occasionally takes my breath away - as if I am just the vehicle for songs that had simply been waiting to be heard.
Being alive is a wonderful thing. But when do we really feel that truth? I might feel it swimming to the buoys off some Mediterranean beach or I might feel it when I'm enjoying a meal with my family or tackling pub quizzes with my friends or in that orgasmic moment when Hull City or England score the winning goal but I tell you, for me one of the clearest times is when I'm playing that guitar and creating songs. It's like something above and beyond me.
I can play Dylan, The Beatles, old English folk songs, Donovan, Jackson Browne, John Denver but mostly I prefer to play my own stuff. Usually, I have five or six songs in my head and then another one is born and before you know it I have forgotten one of those I had been playing for weeks. I have a dictaphone and sometimes I try to capture my songs like insects in amber - so that they do not slip away. I rarely talk to anybody about my clandestine song making so it comes as something of a surprise - even to me that I'm here at my keyboard blurting this out to the strangers who inhabit blogworld - perhaps a good idea for another song!


  1. Get them on the web - the blogosphere could collborate.

  2. Wow. I really had no idea you played. Impressive, my British buddy. I'm with Steve, get them out there. Share your talent with us. With the world. Whatever you decide to do, though, never stop playing, composing and dreaming (just don't dream about turkeys). Dreams are what life is made of, and life is much more satisfying when we live our dreams.

  3. Hey York, not to distract from your post, here, but I came across something you might like. Love, actually. Especially this one:
    Being British
    Check out her latest, as well - as an educator, you should get a kick out of it. Random Finds

  4. I started playing the guitar last October, after a lifetime of wanting to play. I love it! It's been hard to practice lately, because my daughter puts her hands on the strings, but as long as I'm not in a hurry to go on stage, it's okay. I have short fingers and not much of a fret-span at the moment, but I play upon steel-strings until my fingers hurt too much to go on.

    Your guitar looks lovely.


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