Monday, June 7, 2010


My very best - my favorite guitar - fell off it’s stand yesterday.  Most times, I’ve astutely observed when marble and wood go to battle, it’s usually “scoreboard – marble.”  Unfortunately, this was no exception. 

Several people on the platform pointed out what was happening.  As I turned and saw the guitar toppling from the stand, everything went into slow motion and feet, in spite of being instructed by brain to “run,” did practically nothing at all.  I knew even if I made a mad dash – and made in scene in the dashing – I would be too late to save the beautiful instrument.

As it fell down two steps, with more than a few people in the seats watching and wondering what my response would be, my first thought was, “Well, maybe it’s ok.”

It reminds me of the scene from the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” where Phil (Bill’s character) drives over a cliff in a pickup truck and crashes violently into the ground below.  Another character remarks “He might be OK.”   Then the truck explodes into a giant fireball and the character says “Well, probably not now.”

As I picked up the guitar, I couldn’t see any immediate physical scars.  But when I strummed the strings I knew it was bad.  They sounded like they’d been tuned ready for a international flight.

When I looked closer, there was a chunk about the size of two fifty cent pieces out of the base of the neck.  I got a little nauseous.  And still, all those eyes on me, wondering “Is he gonna lose it?” 

Now I hope you don’t misunderstand this but I’ve been doing this long enough to realize there’s a time and a place to lose it . . . and this was neither the time nor the place.  So, I just stood there holding the wounded piece of spruce and mahogany then slowly walked off the platform and took a deep breath.

I had an overload of thoughts.  “Who’s at fault here?”  You know, you always want to affix blame as soon as possible.   No one to blame.  “Could this have been avoided?”  Well, duh…of course but that’s what accidents are.  “It’s just a thing . . . a really NICE thing!”  But a thing, none the less.  Blah Blah Blah . . . the voice with all the questions goes on and on.

I had work to do, so I couldn’t afford a wake at that particular time.

I’ve had other guitar crashes over the years, but relatively few when you count up the number of times I’ve pulled each one out of the case.  Some time ago, I figured I’d played in over 4200 venues, so with the few accidents that have occurred, I’m pretty fortunate that the occasions don’t add up to much at all.

One night, years ago at a large church in Houston, back in the day when I would play a yearly concert with KSBJ radio, while walking toward the hallway off stage for intermission, I stepped into an unmarked stairwell.  With all my weight put into that fateful, though normal step – and I’ve been walking for years . . . and I mean years – To fall a couple of feet felt like a long, long way.  I was holding my guitar in my right hand and as I fell, I ski-poled the guitar into the floor (which was, by the way, again, made of marble.  So far, marble 2 / guitars 0).  When the lights came up for the crowd to mingle during intermission, the first thing 5000 sets of eyes saw was me lying on my back.  I scrambled to my feet, back aching, knee twisted with as much of a “no problamo” look on my face as I could muster.  As I walked back stage, I noticed there was an eight inch crack on the face of my beloved Lowden guitar.  That, along with other structural compromises rendered it unusable for a long time.  But, it was repaired, sounds great, but still bears that jagged scar.  Hmm. Kind of gives it character.  You know, like the world famous hole in Willie’s axe. 

Other guitars have been stolen, stepped on or banged up by air travel.  Once, while living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and therefore, flying in and out of the Baton Rouge airport, I arrived, gathered my bags only to realize one of the two guitars I’d checked was a no show.  I went through the airline red tape only to get a mysterious phone call a year later from “someone who knew the whereabouts of my lost guitar.”  He wouldn’t give a name and merely stated that the “person” responsible felt guilty and would like to get it back to me.  I’d already gotten a settlement from the airline and never pursued it further.  So far, in all my years, I’ve never reverted to a back-ally meeting  . . . for anything!

The McPherson Guitar people are fantastic and they’ll fix the guitar that was broken yesterday.  They’ve been very generous and very good to me.  It’s a work of art but it’s still, in essence, just a thing.

(The names in the rest of this story are changed) 

My friend, Sam, has cancer.  He’s been in treatment for several months now and still shows up at church with the same big smile and a countenance that just makes you, in my wife’s words, “want to hug him.”  He and his wife have been married for sixty years.  Now, he’s concerned about her and her memory loss.  They are sweet, sweet people facing some of the effects of long years on the planet.

And my guitar is broken.

I know this might sound corny, but simple, life events have all been working together to show me God’s mercy and grace.  There are times I wonder(doubt) if He’s concerned or at all interested in the trivial aspects of my daily breathing in and out and then, a guitar hits the deck and I continue to be reminded that there’s big stuff and little stuff.  I always thought I’d outgrow the need for such reminders and maybe I will . . .just not yet.

Wayne Watson


Anonymous said...

Sorry. I have a good friend who is an artist with building and/or repairing guitars. His name is Jeff Rumor;

Jim said...

Yeah, maybe I'll grow up someday and not need those reminders anymore. Like, in a billion years or so... or maybe not. :)

Sorry to hear about your friend - and your guitar. Sounds like your guitar will be repaired soon. And I trust God will soon do a very excellent body-replacement job with your friends. Meantime, may He keep renewing their spirits day by day!

I should try dropping MY guitar - it would probably improve it... ;) said...

Wayne, very very sorry about your guitar.

Anonymous said...

Way to put things in perspective compared to the grander scheme of things. Good attitude. Hope your guitar comes back good as new.


1wishforeverknowJesus said...

We need you to come to Panama City Florida. I have purchased your cd that has the song "for such a time like this". Bless you! I have written alittle suff lately due to God given me the words. All in the prayer of a passing of a friends Dad. It is only God given words not from me. My friend is in Tampa has workshops on My Inner Peace and also is a cpa/financial advisor. Again Bless you!

Helena P. said...

Hi Wayne,
Back when I was in college (awhile ago!) I had a 12 string guitar I loved to play. A family member accidentally kicked it accross the room one day while entering my room was leaning against the wall by the door. It was never the same again even tho I tried to get it fixed. The neck separated from the body :( Anyway, even tho it's not playable anymore I still have it saved in storage all these years later. It's amazing the personal and emotional attachment we feel about the instruments we play. Lots of memories attached to them too.
I hope your guitar is fixable and that you will get it back good as new :) I don't know if you heard or not but Vince Gill's 35 year old guitar collection was damaged by the floods in Nashville recently. I guess not all the guitars were damaged, but still that is a tough loss for a musician. Anyway, just a note from a fellow guitar lover :) Best wishes to you! Helena P.

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