Baggie Trousers

By SkaBaggie

This Guitar Says Sorry

Following yesterday's blip about the life of Phil Ochs, I picked up my old acoustic guitar after getting back from work tonight. It's been a constant companion since the age of fourteen, and bears the dents and scratches from having been lugged from one end of the country to another on more occasions than I can count. But recently, it's also acquired a fine coat of dust, something that made me quite sad and a little ashamed when I walked past it in the hallway. I feel like I've neglected an old friend, something that we all swear we'll never do when we're young, but sadly slide into with the passage of time. And I had to ask myself how this situation had come about.

It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment in my life that I realised I was never going to become a rock star, but it was probably around the same time I realised I was a bit of a one-trick pony at guitar-playing (my favoured style being "thrash the strings and hope") and that I couldn't write a song to save my life. If it hadn't been for those two minor setbacks, believe me, I'd have been the saviour of rock & roll by now. But before reality kicked me in the gob in its typically gleeful way, I was often to be seen perched on a stage with a microphone in front of me, reminding everyone through the medium of song that being poor isn't a particularly pleasant experience, and that George W Bush is actually a bit of a prick. In addition, many a time I sat out on the cold, windy streets of the city centre and busked for a few quid to supplement my week's wages from work, playing requests on demand, happily watching the coins pile up in my guitar-case. Once I even did a duet of Bob Dylan's Masters Of War with a pissed homeless bloke who'd plonked himself down on the bench next to me. Despite the notable handicaps of having drunk over three litres of extra-strong cider, and not knowing the melody (or indeed, the lyrics) of the song, my newfound mate gave as passionate a performance as I've ever heard, going so far as to cap the closing line - "and I'll stand over your grave till I'm sure that you're dead" - with his own coda: "YEAH, YA BUNCH OF CUNTS".

Happy memories. But my times they were a-changin', and as the years passed I found myself taking to the stage and the streets less and less often. It's funny how the appeal of sitting on your arse in sub-zero temperatures and serenading Christmas shoppers who couldn't care less about you diminishes as you get older. Couple that with an increasing desire to put my words onto paper rather than attempt to work them round a hackneyed three-chord tune, and you have the decline of my already-humble career as a musician in a nutshell.

Still, it hurt a little to see the battered old acoustic six-string sat there all forlorn when I got into the house tonight. How great it was to pick it up again, wipe off the dust and hammer out a song for old times' sake (even if it was a cliched number like Breakfast At Tiffany's, a song that all buskers and open-mic performers should be prohibited from playing under pain of death). It may not happen again for a long time; we seem to have grown apart, as old friends do. But then, as I've learned, the fantastic thing about old friends is that special feeling when you finally do re-establish contact with them, and remember the old days, even if only for a little while.

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