Monday, June 2, 2008

Songs in the Night

I came home last night and fired up the studio – the computer, the software, the keyboard, and dusted off the guitar of choice. I didn’t have any particular sound or style in mind and there wasn’t a particular melody floating around in my head. I just opened up the door in case something popped out.

Unfortunately, not much happened.

When it comes to the doing, I’m handicapped by my hands and my ability to play something new. I go to the same chords a lot, the same progressions and the same licks that have given birth to songs in the past. When I try to start something new with my fingers, it comes out sounding like “For Such A Time as This” or “Friend of a Wounded Heart.” Geez. It’s frustrating. Then I start wishing I had my grand piano close by and that it wouldn’t disturb the neighbors if I started pounding on it. Maybe that would get me thinking in a new direction. But the old grand is in storage miles from where I’m sitting.


I’ve gathered a number of guitars over the years. I say gathered because collected sounds so, well, stuffy. I don’t want to collect guitars. I’ve lost enough or had enough stolen throughout my tenure in this work that I’ve got no real desire to get too chummy with a piece of wood shaped like a guitar. Once, after flying home from a concert, I opened my guitar case to find the neck broken in half. Another time, one just disappeared from the baggage claim in Baton Rouge, LA. A year after I’d filed the claim with the airline and gotten a small amount of money compared to it’s real value, I got a ransom note from the guilty party. Really. I’m not making this up. I got a letter from a guy that basically read, “I have your guitar. I feel bad about it. If you’d like to get it back, get in touch with me at this address.” Creepy. I never followed up.

Guitar love is a heartbreaking endeavor.

People ask – people that don’t gather or collect or even play – why do you have so many guitars? Or why do you need another one? Need?? Let’s not get personal.

I heard someone say once that every guitar has a different song in it. Yeah . . . I like that. That’s all I need. The guitar that had “Somewhere in the World” in it back in 1985 also produced “Watercolor Ponies” a couple of years later. That was a good purchase, I think.

But last night I picked up this one – the green one. This guitar is one of my favorites even though one of the most recent additions. It’s my favorite color and it’s also the color of my first car. But as I played it, again the limitations of my fingers came in to play. The chords that fell under my hand were the same ones as “When You See Jesus” from the latest album. Arrrgghh.

Try something else - yeah, that sounds . . . just . . . like . . . “Almighty.” Wow.

That’s it. Enough for tonight.

So I went to bed and just laid there. While it’s always been hard for me to turn off my mind and sleep, it was especially hard last night. Lest you think I lay there thinking deep, deep thoughts, let me just say, sometimes it’s a mental equivalent of “follow the bouncing ball”:

“Did I lock the door?”

“What did I have for lunch today?”

“How old is Regis?”

“What was that?”

and then, as it happens so many late nights, melodies and lyrics come to me. Realize that this is AFTER I’ve shut everything down and put everything away. It’s hard enough to get to sleep some nights and I’m sure not going to get up and start all over again with the computer, etc., etc.

But the limitations of my hands and fingers and my stale chord progressions don’t have a say in the mental flow of music in my head. Are these little gifts from God? Are they challenges?

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve gone to sleep thinking of, what I think is, a great song idea, a strong lyric or melody, and say to myself “That’s so good – I know I’ll remember that in the morning.” Next morning – poof! Nada. Sorry.

The capacity to think and dream is mind boggling. There are few limitations. Whatever your particular area of expertise, or whatever your interests are, let yourself go this summer. The imagination is a beautiful companion and I know there are new heights to gain by letting God challenge our thoughts, plant new dreams and new songs in our hearts, and then walk with us to achieve them. I think there are great things to share and I look forward to sharing them with you and hearing the songs of your lives as well.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Wishing you a great summer. Blessings to you.



John Ng said...

hey bud! I have a few guitars that I owned and loved over the past 30+ years. In 1970, I got my first guitar- an old Greco which was a Goya guitar. My first real love was my 1971 Martin D-28 which I still caress every now and then. In 1975, I got my Martin D-28-12 sting which was beautiful to listen to but painful to restring. My last prize was my 1979 Gibson electric know as "the Paul" a solid body Les Paul. I wish that I had kept up with it as much as you still do. However, as a great modern day philosopher, Clint Eastwood said " A man's got to know his limitations" - and I just never had the chops as much as you do. I still am glad you still did - in your "limited" way.

Debbie Downer said...

I wake up off and on throughout the night which is not unusual for me but a few nights ago I awoke so suddenly and wide eyed it startled me. I usually will just say a prayer and drift off back to sleep but this particular night I did something different. I asked the Lord if there was something He wanted to say to me instead of me breathing my little "prayer requests". He quietly said "yes" and I said what would you like to say to me? "Be still and know that I am God" softly went through my soul. A peace settled all around me and in me that I can't explain except for the Word speaks of such a peace (John 14:27). I believe in the still of the night when the sounds and distractions of the world are quieted that our God longs to speak mysteries to us and give us pearls and gems (and songs)! Oh that we would be still and listen. "Give us ears to hear your voice Lord and may our gaze forever look into your sweet face." Amen


Stephanie Doyen said...

Well, the summer challenge I have accepted is to go back to school! I am now officially a doctoral student working on my educational doctorate. My daughter started the summer by having her first guitar lessons and is loving it. She plays a purple Hannah Montana guitar with blue butterflies on it. Don't you wish you had one of those for your collection?! And for those of us who wish we could collect grand pianos, I think it almost heresy to have one in storage!!!

Have a great summer!

The Bacon's Online said...

I haven't owned many guitars over the years but I do still have my first guitar, and Alvarez I purchased back in 1976. And it's still my favorite. Soooooo, am I the only one who gives my guitars names?

Sylvia said...

Wayne, It's not about a guitar,but about a violin.Years ago when I heard your song "Touch of the Masters Hand," it brought me to a whole new level with the Lord. I began to see myself in a new way,as He sees me. I still can't listen to that song without crying.
Do you remember coming to Tacoma WA
...maybe in the early 90's? Well you ended up sitting at the piano, and opted to not take a break because the spirit was so thick?
It was Wayne unplugged, a glorious vessel for the Lord.
Hope you come up this way again.
Abundant Blessings,with abounding prosperity,
A blast from the past,

John G. said...

Hello Wayne, I met you way back in the 80's in Americus, GA when we hosted you at FBC here. I recently bought a new guitar and one of my daughters asked me how many do I need to have? Nice to know others hear the same questions. I am still trying to write a little and have had a couple that have made some heads turn. Thank you for the melodies and lyrics that God writes through you. Looking forward to you getting down to GA sometime. John Greene