Have you ever thought about how much music surrounds us at all times? I’m not talking about the white noise of city streets and freeway traffic, I am thinking about the air itself. I think, for many, the sounds that are actual song have become nothing more that white noise. Let me explain.
First there is laughter–passersby, strangers, family, children walking to school. Then there are the sounds around us that are melodious and chordal, vibrant and harmonic–animals, birds a breeze through the trees, leaves rustling. It is these latter I wish to write about today.
Sometimes birds are deafening. Their song is at times so loud that it is hard to think. In my Geyserville/Alexander Valley, we get starlings, blackbirds, goldfinches, and housefinches that migrate through every year. Right now it is the starlings. They block out the sun in clouds of flight, and if you happen to be where they light, you will need ear plugs!
I live in a beautifully, melodic, and joyful place–sometimes. Yesterday morning I went outside and covering our back yard was an explosion of dove feathers covering the winter grass. Earlier that morning I recalled hearing the skree of a hawk. I am assuming that Hawk had a tasty breakfast.
This morning there is the call of quail, the very small birds a biologist friend once DBBs (damn brown birds because they were so hard to identify), blackbirds and dove. The songs this morning are quiet, almost pensive, and almost conversational, should birds actually have conversations in the same sense as I understand conversation.
In the middle of these sounds there is another form of music being played–Rockabilly–me. I am practicing for a performance, on Friday, and trying to juggle all of the various conversations going on in my life at this time. I am going to use my father’s guitar for the gig. It is a 1928 Epiphone A Recording. I do not know if it is a rare guitar or not, but it is precious to me. My parents were married on May 3rd, 1928, and my mother gave my father this guitar for Christmas of that year. The thing is 82-years old this Christmas–WOW!
When I hold this guitar it is like holding a piece of my childhood. It still has a smell that reminds me of houses we once lived in. My father never learned how to play the thing, but he never let go of it. I think that as the first present he got from his young wife, it has a precious and special meaning for him. By the time I got my hands on it, the neck had separated from the body, and it was pretty beat up from all the moves we made over the years. I used to think that it was a really hard playing guitar, and that it had a really poor sound, but over the years I have learned otherwise.
At first it seemed that it sound really bad, then it seemed to sound really good when someone played it that knew what they were doing. Now it both plays well and sounds good when I play it myself. This means that either I have lose my objectivity and hearing, or that I have actually gotten good. I’m going with the last.
Having this guitar in my hands feels good. I can almost hold parts of my family to me that are long dead and gone, and I find a comfort in that. This comfort when I play it means a lot to me, and I try to perform with it at least once a year–even knowing that my father loathed Rockabilly, or maybe because… While it was well versed in Western Music (my father lent it to a Cowboy singer for a few years), I had to introduce it to the Country, Honky Tonk, and Rockabilly that I play. It has learned really well. I think that maybe so have I! Me ‘n the birds, we rock to our own song.