Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Gift of Music

Playing guitar came so easy to me. I've had a few lessons in my life but they were to learn specific things like flatpicking. I just picked it up...I consider it a gift. Many of the other musicians I know came from families of musicians - a father played the banjo or a mother taught piano lessons. But for the most part, I simply decided one day that I wanted to play and it grew from that.
I was browsing through my mothers' photos a several years ago and came across a dark haired man wearing a hat. He had shaggy hair, a mustache and he was thin as a pencil. He had a picker's grin on his face and a fiddle in his hands. He was sitting on the back porch of an old clapboard house that had never seen paint. When I asked mother about the photograph she said "that's your great grandpa Alley Watson. " I looked back at the picture and back at her. It was taken in the 30's and it's the only picture of him I have ever seen. Mamma said he came up rough...lived a hard life and died young in rural Alabama.
I found his unmarked grave in the cemetery behind the old Dora High School. She told me where and I went over there one afternoon and took my guitar. I sat in the shade and played some of old songs and talked for a long while to Alley. I felt a connection that I never knew existed.
The next day, I found a smooth flat creek rock that was rounded on one edge. I took some hand tools and carved his name in that stone. I know a lot of people have left this world and are buried in unmarked graves, but I felt that my great grandpa deserved better and carving the stone with my own hands seemed right.
I wish I could have met him before he died because I would have loved to have told him thank you for the precious gift of music.


  1. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Tell him now. Your weird friend believes that those who are no longer physically with us, still hear us when we tell them something good.

  2. Anonymous6:13 PM

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  3. Anonymous6:14 PM

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