The ghost of my father lives in his guitar.
It has to.
When he died in 1979, he left me the Gibson hollow-body electric he bought in the mid 1940s (the one on the right).
I have three other guitars as well, a later model Gibson hollow-body electric from the mid-1950’s (the one on the left), a Martin D-28 from the late-1960’s, and a hand made Gallagher Doc Watson model I bought in 1983 (left and right respectively in the lower photo).
The song I most associate with my father to my knowledge has no official title. He called it The Band Song. So do I, now. I love it for its charm, sweetness, and mystery.
His mother taught it to him.
He taught it to me.
It’s an old-fashioned instrumental I’ve never heard recorded, and I've searched hard over the decades. He and I are the only ones I’ve ever heard play it.
I miss his version. He played it brilliantly, though seldom.
I remember back all those years lying on his bed listening, listening, listening to him not making so much as one mistake and transporting me into the fabric of the notes themselves. I remember begging him to play it so many times, only to have him take off on something I didn't care for nearly as well.
When I play The Band Song on my three guitars it sounds like yours truly, however good or bad that might be. But when my fingers pick it on his, he enters the room and takes over.
Is that to be expected?
Doesn't matter. It is.
I have no one to pass it down to, yet.
Slanting an old philosophical question, if no one ever plays it, does it exist?
And if I'm not able to pass it down, will it then become a ghost?