At 48, I have decided to do something that I have been meaning to do ever since I wrote a lyric. Ever since I learned Cat Scratch Fever. I bought a guitar. I thought I would write something out to explain why I did this even though I don’t need to, but I know I should be writing more. I also like to share my story because I know it is unique but others may enjoy it and who knows what good it can do and how God can work in you. I at least know I am a better writer than I am a guitar player.
Back when I was like four or five years old, my parents got divorced. I remember living in an apartment in St. Charles way across the river for a short bout before my mom found a house right behind my grandparents. That was also a pretty short stay and we ended up settling in a house a few doors down from that for a couple of years. These years were key in my life. My brother was around for a bit and then he joined the Air Force. You see my sister was already in the Marine Corps by this time so I don’t have any idea why Bobby chose the Air Force. Probably had something to do with him thinking he was smarter than her or some space program stuff. Anyway, that is for another story. When my brother was home, he had a guitar. Heck, it was the 70’s. Every teenage boy like my brother wanted nothing to do with disco and dancing, he wanted to listen to the rock music of the day and play guitar. I remember albums of artists like Kansas, Boston, Ted Nugent, and Carlos Santana. He would just lay there and listen to some songs over and over attempting to play them on a tennis racket until he bought a guitar. I don’t remember when he got one, I just remember him with one. Never would I be allowed to touch it. It would only be there when he was around so I honored his wishes. I don’t remember when but he showed me how to play a part of ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ by Ted Nugent. I can still play that to this day. He never showed me anything else besides his love for what now is called classic rock music of the 70’s and 80’s. He didn’t really care for my love of pop music and country.
A few years later I became more interested in girls. I had no clue what to do those interests as my dad was barely involved and my brother was barely around. I remember Bobby coming back to live in the basement at a few of our houses. I think he actually had a better set up there than mine at one house. Anyway, I was keeping to myself as I was an extrovert in a very chaotic family. This time alone got me to think about these girls in interesting ways. I really was a jerk of a kid as I made top 10 lists of girls. I do remember lots of those names but that was a different time. I might have been a blogger or something by middle school back then if that tech existed. Anyway, I started focusing this passion for girls on trying to put it into words because I knew I was never going to tell them in person. I wrote lyrics and poems that were mostly just for me. I doubt most people knew I wrote them because I never shared. My goal was to get some of this stuff put to music. Most of them sounded like crappy pop or country love songs. They have titles like ‘1+1 is 2’, ‘Miracles Only Happen Once’, and my own version of ‘Straight From the Heart.’ To this day I think I may actually have gotten something there but I never put any of them to real music because I never knew how to play the guitar.
My former brother-in-law Rick could play the guitar. He played it quite well. I looked up to him being the center of the party as he was strumming along. I wanted to be like him. I think he let me borrow my step-nephews guitar once or twice and tried to teach me but never had the patience.
After joining the Marine Corps, I kind of gave up my guitar playing goal until right before the Gulf War in July of 1990. For some reason I bought a Casio 220 keyboard because I knew I could at least play that some as I had piano lessons growing up. That keyboard went back in its box about a month for storage purposes while I went off to Bahrain. After I got back, it took a few months for me to even unpack it and probably a little while for me to play it again. Those dang girls started to really get in the way. Turning 21 didn’t help either. I am thinking that if I would have found a girl who liked a guy who played the guitar, I would of went for it then, but that never happened. I met Lyn when I was 22 and the dream of playing a guitar got buried. Oh, trust me, I was busy with life, love, and more of those two to worry about playing a guitar.
God has a funny way of working things in life. Never did that seed of playing a guitar go away. Through the years I remember admiring friends who could play hoping that someday I might give it another shot. A few years back at Northern Pines, God, with the help of Dean Jaderston, brought Lyn and I together with another couple by the name of Todd and Janelle Rau. We immediately connected with them because of our mutual loves to serve, of Disney, and something we knew would be around forever. You see I learned that Todd played guitar. Not only did he play guitar, he played guitar in a worship band. A few years later, I got to visit Todd’s house and I am convinced that if I lived anywhere closer to Todd, how different my life would be. Trust me, I am not moving 800 miles to be 40 degrees colder or to be that far away from Busch Stadium and Lion’s Choice, but you know what I mean. Todd has more patience than any friend I have had. He listens and understands that I can’t always say things what I mean but he knows what I mean. He would make me an outstanding guitar teacher.
God still has a reason for everything. Look at your paths. Realize all the little ways He is working in you. I will give you my other influence in loving guitar from afar. Several years ago, we started attending Quest Church. They have a worship band. I remember not caring for this lady who led them at one point but I was amazed when I saw the passion of a different young man leading worship. As Quest grew, I became part of the safety team and would frequently get to church early and hear the worship band practicing. Luke Sinak and his wife Beth became a friend from church quickly because of their families love for Christ, baseball, and music and arts. Beth has amazing gifts that are easy to see at church. I learned to see Luke’s gifts as I talked to him more and more.
Recently, with life being chaotic at home, others, with the help of God told me I need to really focus more time to myself. Writing like this will be one of those times. Documenting those experiences are something I really enjoy. I may go off on tangents in some of these stories but I hope you enjoy them. Anyway, back to the guitar. I knew with Northern Pines coming up I would have some free time and Todd told me we would get some time together so for some reason, I thought about a guitar. I looked online a bit and asked a friend of mine who told me she had a guitar I could borrow if I could borrow it. Well, bless her heart, it was a junior guitar and not what I needed to learn on. So, I went another route. Todd gave me some ideas of what he thought were some good starter guitars but they all seemed a bit out of my price range for something I was unsure of myself on.
Last Saturday I decided to go to Guitar Center and check them out. The South County one is much bigger on the inside. I walked back to the acoustic guitar room and looked in somewhat awe. Lyn wandered around the store doing who knows what. I looked at a few Todd had mentioned and they were all out of my desired price range. Eventually, a nice young man came in and asked if I needed anything. I told him my brief guitar history and told him I wanted a starter. He said he had a used Taylor in the back section. Yup, still way out of my price range and then he showed me a Yamaha he would recommend as a starter. Cool, told me there were two types of necks on them and said he would leave me to them to feel. Found one that would work but decided it wasn’t right for me. So, I headed off to another store not too far away Todd had mentioned called Music-Go-Round. They feature all used items and I admit their acoustic guitar section is about as big as Guitar Centers. Guy there talked to me about starter guitars and showed me a bunch over my price range and I asked about one I saw I liked. It was a nice Alvarez, but I knew it wasn’t my guitar.
The next day I was going to settle on not finding anything but our church had an ice cream truck present for National Ice Cream Day. I was done with mine and saw Luke had a second and went and told him what I was doing. Immediately, he was supportive and told me about the ones I looked at and I was on the right track. I also mentioned looking at Facebook Marketplace so he said to let him look at anything I found as a reference. I got home after lunch and took a bit of time to look on the Marketplace. I found two and I sent them both to Luke and Todd. One of them immediately stood out to me as it was an acoustic/electric guitar for an acoustic price. Luke agreed quickly and had me confirm the model number. I looked it up on reverb.com and I thought it was a good deal and Luke immediately confirmed saying you normally can’t get one with a built in EQ for that price. He also said that a Dean EFM-TRD would make a great first guitar. Todd came thru a few minutes later so I messaged the seller I would like to come see it. He said he would be home a bit later and it worked out that Lyn could come with me, so off we went thru Arnold. Knocked on the gentlemen’s house and he greeted us and invited us in. A very welcoming home and I soon noticed the Amazing Grace over the mantle. He showed me the guitar and explained to me that he had some other strings that sounded better on it but they don’t make them anymore. He was very forthright and honest. I told him I had a few friends that were giving me advice and one was my worship leader at church. He asked where then proceeded to tell me that the guitar I was interested in led worship at Oasis Church in Arnold for years. That sold it for me and after a deal and a handshake, I thanked him and we were on our way home. I messaged Todd and Luke on the way home to let them know my excitement.
So here I sit with my ‘Guitar For Dummies’ book and my hands that don’t know what they are doing hoping that I will be able to learn to play this guitar. She is a pretty one and has a story of her own. I am now just happy that God’s timing is good and I have myself a pretty red guitar.
Yay! You can totally do this. Excited for your musical journey!