Monday, July 21, 2008

my inheritance


There are objects that make a house a home: My daddy’s Martin guitar made ours.

When it stood in the corner of the living room, quiet and waiting for my dad to pick it up and make it sing, I would stretch out long on the shag rug before it and study its shiny spruce and rosewood skin, its mahogany neck, its mother of pearl beauty marks. I’d peer into the well that was its voice box and inhale the rich wood smell; I’d pluck the strings and feel the whole thing vibrate itself alive.

My dad gave me a few lessons when I asked him once, but I inherited my Bompa’s tiny hands and they never seemed long enough to stretch across the strings. I was too impatient to believe I could every come up with calluses tough enough to stop the sharp pain that shot through my fingertips when I tried to pin down the metal strings across the frets and try try try to make it sing for me.

But my daddy could make it sing. Still can. His music is my first music, his voice is in the lullaby I still hum (Hush little baby don’t say a word / Papa’s gonna buy you a mocking bird...), and while his memory of being able to hold the whole of me in the palm of his hand when he returned late from playing the clubs and I was small and fussing and he paced and sang me to sleep is something I only know from his telling me -- even still I feel the deep safety of being held and swayed whenever he picks up his guitar and plays.

holga
Music Shop
Geneva, IL

p.s. The Making of a Martin, courtesy of the New York Times »

4 comments:

anniemcq said...

sigh. wiping away a tear. this is so beautiful, d.

Kari said...

what a sweet, sweet memory

Curt Johnson said...

Beautiful, Dayna. This is very touching to me as both a father and a musician. My heart goes out to you.

Kris Vogel said...

Oh Dayna, this is so beautiful! All that love carries on through you now...

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