Friday, November 19, 2010

"The Day the Music Died"

I was on my way to work this morning and the song American Pie by Don McLean came on the radio. I’ve always liked that song, so I’m listening to it, and then he sings at the end of the first verse, "...the day...the music...died". It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Bobby was a musician. He was innately talented, and self taught himself to play the guitar and the banjo, and damn, he was good. He never played professionally, and he didn’t like playing in front of crowds, so he never performed on a stage. In fact, the only time he played in front of a crowd was when he played at our church a couple of times. Other than that, he would usually play alone, with his brother, or with a friend. And in the past few years, before he was diagnosed, he would occasionally play along with our sons when they were practicing their instrument lessons. But my favorite time that he played was when he played for me. He took requests.

He would relax after a day at work by playing the banjo or guitar while watching television, which baffled me. I could never understand how he could successfully play a banjo while watching Diners Drive-ins and Dives. I was not a huge fan of banjo or blue grass music before I met Bobby, and really never had any interest in that type of music. But when it was him playing, I loved every note. Even when he played the tune from the movie Deliverance, which I watched with him and hated. He would play the tune just to get a reaction from me, which usually consisted of my eyes rolling, and a reiteration of how much I hated that movie. Then he would laugh. Once in a while, he even played tunes that he made up in his head, which I especially loved.

I remember shortly after he was diagnosed, I was making dinner and around the corner in the family room he was sitting on the couch playing his guitar. He wasn’t playing any song in particular, but it was the familiar finger-picking and strumming that I loved hearing. And I started to cry. I did not let him see me cry, because I didn’t want to upset him, but I couldn’t bear the thought of never hearing him play again. So I tried to memorize the sound in my head.

Unfortunately, there are no recordings that I know of in which he plays either the guitar or banjo. His banjos sit in our family room now, collecting dust. I bought myself a beginner’s banjo book, with the hopes of learning to play, but I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, so I’m wondering where that is going to go. My younger son, who is learning the guitar, will play his dad's guitars once in a while.

So in addition to the loss of my wonderful husband on that horrible day in April, for me, it is the day the music died.

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