The Guitar

Rule #206: Sometimes the best words of wisdom are those that are unspoken.

Today marks not only the inauguration of a new president; it also marks the 9th anniversary of my Daddy-O’s passing. Nine years since I got to hear that chuckle, get a big hug, or (my favorite) hear his words of wisdom. I don’t think it’s ironic that my dad passed away on January 20th – the day every new president takes that most sacred of oaths. My dad was a source of insight and comfort that I crave very much to this day and will for the rest of my life.

Guitar-Doug-Version-2

One of the most profound lessons given to me by my Daddy-O has to be the story of The Guitar, or rather, The Stare. My dad was a wonderful guitar player and (in his own right) a singer. The song I remember his singing most was “American Pie” by Don McLean (lyrics are below). Do you know that song? It’s one that stirs up some very bittersweet and beautiful emotions in me every time it comes on.

One time when I was about twelve, I had some friends over to play. I was so proud of my Daddy and his guitar that I asked him to sing “American Pie” for my friends. As you can imagine, the giggling of middle school girls started up almost as soon as he strummed the first note. It’s not every day that a Daddy will just pick up his guitar on command and sing his favorite song to his daughter and her friends. I immediately started to crumble in embarrassment: Is this weird? I guess this isn’t cool? But I like it!

It was one of those first growing pains that really hurt pretty deeply. And what did my dad do? Did he stop playing that guitar? Did he stop singing? Hell no.

He caught my eyes and stared me down. He sang straight to me. He held my gaze and wouldn’t look away because he was communicating a very big message in that very vulnerable moment. It’s a look and a feeling I’ll never forget and will always cherish. I’ve looked back so many times on that moment, and each time I feel such an overwhelming sense of pride.

My dad’s unspoken words of wisdom were this: keep playing. Keep singing. Keep doing what you love. Don’t worry about what anyone else says. Don’t worry what anyone else does. Stay true to yourself. Stay strong in yourself. Take pride in who you are.

I’ve been thinking about that very poignant moment for the past few weeks leading up to today. I thought it was the perfect lesson to accompany such a day as this. Our country may be beaten up, bruised, and battered, but we are still a beautiful beacon of democracy. No matter your feelings on who is president today, I hope you will join me (and my Dad) in holding on to the pride we have in these United States of America.

Cheers to you, my Hippie Daddy. Keep on playing.

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“American Pie” by Don McLean

A long, long time ago
I can still remember how that music
Used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while


But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

So, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”


Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Now, do you believe in rock ‘n’ roll
Can music save your mortal soul
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
I was a lonely teenage bronckin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died


I started singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin’ stone
But that’s not how it used to be
When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me


Oh, and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned
And while Lenin read a book on Marx
A quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

We were singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”


Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now, the halftime air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?


We started singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”


Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So, come on, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the Devil’s only friend

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died


He was singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play


And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died


And they were singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die”


They were singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die”

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