“Play your guitar.” Although the request was from my lovely wife Jodiette, I gulped. It had been so long. But why had it been so long? I took group lessons in Ottawa in 1972. During the spring of 1974, I often took my guitar out to the beach in Vancouver. And in the summer of 1975, when I was managing the laundry at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes National Park, me and my guitar were pretty much joined at the hip. I played in a staff talent show, and later that year sang “Hello In There” to folks who were with me on Vancouver Island at a workshop called “Coming Alive”. So why did I let the musical zest seep away? I don’t know.
A few nights ago, I played “For You” for Jody, complete with not-quite-right-on chords and a questionable approximation of the melodies. Jody loved it. She cried. And I loved hearing my voice again. I went to the Internet and found the lyrics and chords for some old favourites: “The Mary Ellen Carter”, “How Can I Tell You That I Love You?”, “Help Me Make It Through The Night”. And somehow I made it through the songs, with the finger burn making me stop eventually. But it was a very sweet hour.
Over the last few days, I’ve forgiven myself for having let the guitar go, for not singing to my darling all these years. I vaguely remembered having a thick file folder full of songs but I had no idea where it was. Jody said, “Look in the piano bench.” And lo and behold, there it was. I also found eight sheets of paper, dated February, 1997, with the title “Songs I Want to Learn” … 115 in all (sadly, none of them learned).
Such a strange journey we’re on, full of imperfect choices and odd diminishments of aliveness, having had no intention of doing so. It’s as if I’ve been asleep at times, in some sort of trance, walking the expected walk through the events of the day. Jody has asked me to wake up. And so I am, with many stories, melodies, harmonies and chords to come.
May ABBA teach us all:
Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing
Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance what are we?
So I say thank you for the music
For giving it to me