Six Strings of Love and How Ricky Nelson Changed My Life

silvertoneLike many other American kids in the fifties and early sixties, I fell in love with wood and strings while watching Ricky Nelson play at the end of each weeks “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett” TV show. I recall dragging my parents to my Uncle Lou’s music store to sign up for lessons and he said guitars were just a fad, so I took home an accordion instead. That lasted about a month.

For the next year I saved my pennies for my first axe: a black Silvertone S-623 archtop with f-holes and white pick guard that I bought from Sears and Roebucks. That guitar got lost along the way, and outside of a decade flirtation with a Hagstrom solid body electric that ended in the mid-seventies, I’ve always been an acoustic man.

There is something honest and truthful about being unplugged and the images of old cowboys out in the prairie or sharecroppers on the steps of their shacks, takes me back to times that may have been simpler or maybe not. Never one to spend a ton of money on my instruments, there are times I admit that I lust after the Martins that you see on e-Bay for twenty grand or more. I do like those Taylor guitars and the way they ring, and if you ask me, an old National steel is just too cool for words.

Whether I play them or not, being around guitars just feels damn good. In high school I hung around the Guitar Workshop in Philly, long gone now. Met David Crosby there, who wandered in with Joni Mitchell. When I go to Nashville I go to Gruhns’ and for loads of fun there’s Willie’s in St. Paul. There used to be a bunch of music stores off Broadway in Manhattan, but they’re all shuttered now.

Nowadays I go through websites to see whats new, or look through the Guitar Center catalogs that get stuffed into my mailbox. It’s a pretty lousy substitute for standing in store full of wire and wood. Sort of lonesome…