LESLIE CRISS: Silence comes with loss of comforting old friend

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“It was my 16th birthday – my mom and dad gave me my Goya classical guitar that day. I sat down, wrote this song, and I just knew that that was the only thing I could ever really do – write songs and sing them to people.”
– Stevie Nicks

“Lean your body forward slightly to support the guitar against your chest, for the poetry of the music should resound in your heart.”
– Andre Segovia

“When words fail, the guitar speaks.”
– George Szell

I lost a good friend last week. Sadly, and with great regret, I admit it’s a friendship I had of late neglected. Still and yet, it was a constant comfort knowing this friend was close at hand.
This was not a lifetime friend. We’d been confidantes only a little more than a decade. And during those years whenever I felt lonely or sad or inspired, I’d reach for this friend of mine and hold it close until I felt better or until I’d created something – be it good or not so good.
I found my friend – a beautiful Takamine acoustic guitar – at a local pawn shop.
I’d recently moved to Tupelo and was in that I’m-new-in-town-and-not-so -sure-where-or-if-I-belong stage. It was early one morning as I was driving to work, when suddenly I whipped into the parking lot of the pawn shop.
Now, I’ve got nothing against pawn shops, but until that morning I’d never been inside one. In I went and immediately asked the guy behind the counter if he happened to have any Takamine guitars.
He looked a bit distraught at my question, then walked over to a rack of stringed instruments and pulled one down.
“This is the only one I have,” he said. “It’s a good one and I love it. It’s the one I play when I’m here.”
Reluctantly, he handed it to me. The guitar was beautiful to look at. Then I brushed the strings and the sound was amazing, just like every other Takamine I’d played since my long-ago freshman year in college when I taught myself to play a little.
I wanted that guitar. The price was right. So, I told the guy who also loved the Takamine that I’d take it.
He looked like he might gently weep, but he sold it to me anyway.
“It’s a great guitar,” he said. “You’ll enjoy playing it.”
And I did. But no more.
Monday afternoon I opened its case and noticed the strings on the Takamine looked way too loose. Then I noticed the head, which holds the tuning keys, was bent slightly forward.
Upon closer inspection, I realized there was a crack in the wood just between the neck and head. When I touched it, the entire head broke from the body and neck of the guitar.
Perhaps a luthier worth his or her salt could repair my guitar, but it would likely be cost prohibitive.
On Tuesday I had a hankering to play, then remembered I could not longer do that. That made me sad.
The good news is my beautiful Takamine will now be recycled. We’re going to turn it into a decorative birdhouse.
I’m hoping it will also become functional and birds might find it a good place to rest for a time.
And once again my guitar can be the source of sweet music.
leslie.criss@journalinc.com