Author: Compton, Cliff

Of car keys and capos

I was digging in my pocket today for my keys. I pulled out a capo, then a string winder, then a set of Martin Marquis strings, a couple of picks, and then, mercifully, my keys.

Itís kind of the story of my life. Musical instruments, and their accessories, and all things musical spilling over the top of the basic fundamentals of existence. Iíve bought a guitar when I couldnít afford the mortgage. Iíve bought hotel rooms in Bakerfield when I needed new tires. I remember a band member of a gospel group I was playing in getting firey mad at the hours of practice we were putting in night after night. He said ďdonít you realize weíve got a life.Ē He really caught me be surprise. I always just assumed that everyone felt the same way about music that I did. That, often to me, music was life.

Donít get me wrong. I know there are things more important. Family and God for sure, maybe something else. But itís a short list, in my little world. I work a job, selling things. Toting that barge, lifting that bale. I drag on my shoes in the morning, pour in the coffee, eat my oatmeal, stumble to my car, Turn on the ipod, and whooeeÖ come the new stump town rounderís thumping out some raucous train song and once again I am transported to happy land.
Iím not really sure what it is about this thing. If itís genetics (plenty of musicians in my family), itís culture, community or just all encompassing gratitude for the gift that drives this passion. All I know is that I spent eleven days driving down route sixty six and highway 80 to spend thanksgiving with my mother and sisters, and I saw the Grand Canyon and the oldest mission in the united states and enough history to fill a dozen books, but what I remember most was singing Angel band with my family and standing on the corner of Winslow Arizona with my arm around a bronze statue of Jackson Brown. Go figure!

Iíve lived on the third floor of of a tenement building in Portland Oregon where I had to push my Sun amplifiers up six flights of stairs every weekend so that I could play Rock and Roll for ten dollars a night and beer in some cheezy little bar that I wouldnít want my children to know I had ever stepped inside of. Iíve been without a car, but never without a guitar.
Last Saturday I drove to Livingston to Betty Nolans place, two hours up and two hours back, just to pick for three hours with Snap Jacksons group and Angelica, and marcos and the old timee guys. I had enough musical equipment on the seat of my car to fix every problem a musician could have short of divorce.

And here I am again last night. Slipping on my nasty gray stetson copy, and snapping the clips on Lloyd Butlers old martin, driving out in the rain to Deb Livermores place to practice with Chef Mike an Armondo to play some Christmas songs at the old folks homes.

Some of you are nodding your heads, saying yeah, thatís the way it is. Some of you are saying ďhe needs to get a life.

Youíre probably both right. Blast it!ÖÖwhere are those keys?.

Posted:  12/10/2010

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