Friday, November 27, 2009

true vintage

I spent the whole day in a shopping mall with my sister. Usually a day in a mall would be hell, but I found out that the Lehigh Valley Mall has recently added a Guitar Center, and that means one thing to me...I get to play my dream guitar. The whole day of lines, traffic, and yelling children was worth it for that alone. That's me picking away. My sister snapped the photo with her iphone. (Who knew a homesteader could be so happy in a crowded shopping center retail store?) For a few minutes the whole world melted away and it was just me and that soft-shouldered wonder. If you think I'm using dramatic license—you never played one.

The Gibson J-45 is a piece of American history. A gorgeous tobacco sunburst jumbo developed in the mid 40s. It's dark, like me. It's non-electric, like me. And just holding one in my grabby paws made me smile more than I did on prom night. I was smiling because I was playing was the guitar that blues legends, folk singers, and old-time crooners picked alike. It was the dark horse that saw the death of a World War, the birth of a rock & roll, and became the soundtrack to a social revolution. It was there to watch the entire shift in western culture happen. It was in studio apartments in SoHo during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was in the back of dusty trucks in Iowa for the moon landing. It was there to see the Civil Rights Movement and probably strapped to the back of those who marched. She's just been here, all along. Watching us happen and playing the soundtrack along the way. I think the world of her.

Someday I will own one. It'll be older, probably a model from the 60's, but perfect. She'll sit in my future farmhouse and dance in the dusty sunbeams in my barn. She'll be the harmony to my own voice at late night bonfires where my border collies circle the flames like happy sharks. She'll be the avatar of "I made it."

But right now, like so many things, she's a pipe dream. A vintage J-45 costs more than my truck and finding one in good condition in a pawn shop cheap is near impossible. But every week I hunt eBay and look on Craigslist for my lucky break. I carry her picture in my wallet. I wear a small black Gibson charm around my neck. I hope. She's the guitar that is Jenna and I'll call her mine someday, this I am certain.

You know, it's not about owning some fancy possession. It's about becoming a part of that history. It's knowing that you're making music for yourself on all of our collective nostalgia: regardless if we realize it or not. Some day I will play that guitar and lean back into warm arms and know it is exactly where I belong. It won't happen soon, and it won't be easy, but it'll be worth it. When I figure out how to get there I'll let you know.

19 Comments:

Blogger fersher said...

It's beautiful to have such passion.

P.S. "Usually a day in a mall would be hell" - ditto.

November 27, 2009 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Chicken Mama said...

You have SUCH a way with words, woman!

I just added this to the Quotable Quotes section of our blog:

"You know, it's not about owning some fancy possession. It's about becoming a part of that history."

- Jenna Woginrich gets the credit for coining this phrase, but it illustrates exactly how I feel about our stone Swamp River Ridge house which will be standing long after I'm gone.

November 27, 2009 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Tami SouthStreetShabby.blogspot.com said...

Ohhhhh.....make sure you include this in your new book. It's a wonderful story and as usual, no illustration is needed, just an imagination and your musical words. Hope your holiday was great! Tami E.

November 27, 2009 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger ownedbyIDI said...

Glad you had such a great experience! As for me,
I do not have a musical bone in my body! K

November 27, 2009 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

That must have been your reward for bravery. I don't even leave my house on Black Friday!

I can hardly wait for the day that you write about your new guitar and all of the joy it brings you.

November 27, 2009 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Summerbeam gardener said...

www.shopgoodwill.com sometimes has a good selection of guitars, if you know what you're looking for.
-Heidi

November 27, 2009 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Sarah Fain said...

Your post reminded me of a song by David Wilcox called "Guitar Shopping." It's a beautiful song, as was your post. Me, I dream of a certain Taylor guitar... but I don't play well enough to deserve it.

November 27, 2009 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Sarah, I don't either. But I'm pretty sure if I had one I'd do my best to catch up. Playing it was enough inspiration to buy a new lesson book in basics, since all I know is chord songs in standard tuning and some finger tricks I made up myself. If you had your Taylor, or I my Gibson, we'd play up for certain.

November 27, 2009 at 10:27 PM  
OpenID norcalrn said...

Jenna- I love the fact that you play multiple instruments (& that they are all stringed!) I am trying to relearn the Cello, and my fiance just got a beginners guitar to start learning on. I would love to learn the guitar as well as the dulcimer someday, maybe even the mandolin.... My questions for you is- how hard have you found it to be to learn/keep up with multiple instruments? Do they all use music written in the same clef- so its easier? I'm just kind of wondering cuz I don't want to burn myself out by trying to learn too many instruments. Any info is helpful!

p.s. My "donation" we talked about is soon to be forthcoming- I'm so excited! I'll email you back tomorrow. :)

~Erica in San Jose

November 28, 2009 at 4:15 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

You're in the Lehigh Valley? Well, damn! We could have lunch, (leftovers of course!) and get you a home away from home dose of mini-homesteading. Hope you're enjoying the visit to your old stomping grounds.

November 28, 2009 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

Want another good guitar story?? See what happens when you finally get your dream guitar and someone takes it away. GO on over to Sue's http://grannysuesnews.blogspot.com/2009/11/revenge-sweet-when-united-takes-heat.htmland
then listen to the video song that was written by Dave Carroll.

November 28, 2009 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Nor: I play for the pleaure of making simple music, not to master anything. I play some guitar, some banjo, dulcimer and my fiddle and I treat them all as their own projects. I can't read music, or can't yet anyway, so I play by ear which the fiddle taught me. I use basic beginner books and learn as I go from friends, jams, and teaching aids. I think you should just have fun and not take it too seriously, one of the many will stand out and when you need different company the others are there too.

November 28, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger chadruss said...

know what u mean jenna! im in love with my soft shouldered epiphone!

November 28, 2009 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

me too chad. I have an AJ, it's based on the J-45, and also an epiphone. Which, is of course, part of Gibson

November 28, 2009 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Karen Sue said...

Nor-
I know a girl who plays the cello, piano, flute, guitar...I think a few others...and sings beautifully. I think if you have the gift of playing by ear, which is really what I do when I tinker around on the piano, and/or can read music, which I can do, but I really need to hear it first, you won't confuse yourself but actually one will aid the others. If you know how to go up and down, it will work out. I learned to read some music in chorus and by taking flute lessons part of 5th grade, until I broke my arm, giving the band teacher a much deserved break of his own! But I think with a flute or piccolo and a little time, I could come up with some tunes on it. I'm 47... 5th grade was a long time ago..but I think once you get the music in you, it's hard to keep it in. I had a neighbor and some friends who played piano, so they could point me in the right direction and I could just do it. Guitar is something I'd like to learn. Just need to get something from the library and make the time. I guess I wouldn't limit the number of instruments you play, but perhaps learn one to comfort and then pick another.

November 28, 2009 at 2:22 PM  
OpenID norcalrn said...

thanks for the feedback! That helps immensely! :)

November 28, 2009 at 8:40 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

I long to learn to play the guitar. Music truly speaks to the soul and to make it is divine. I have a guitar, I lack the courage to pick it up and try. Instead, I knit but someday....I will make music and sing slightly off key and almost faint in the delight.

November 29, 2009 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger Leiflet said...

Glad the mall experience didn't do you in. I was laughing when you told me you were getting up early for it. You definitely don't strike me as a "black friday" kind of girl, so i'm glad you found something, even a tiny piece, to make it worth it.

By the way, we have a freakishly great guitar store here that has tons of vintage guitars. And i mean, Vintage. They had a few parlor guitars from the early 20th century (as in, 1906!!) selling for close to $100. Amazing, right? So if you need a vintage Gibson connection, i may have your hookup. I may be a good friend to keep around-- who knows?

November 30, 2009 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Damn The Broccoli said...

Gotta leave a post on this one.
I own an Ovation Legend.
It was three years in the purchasing from first visit to running into the shop with the cash desperate to make sure she was still there and that she hadn't been sold in the intervening hours. Second hand and a bit battered and dinged she was a dark beauty from the first day I saw her and as a great philosopher once said "Oh yes... she will be mine"

Never lose the faith that one day you will have your guitar.

February 8, 2010 at 1:38 PM  

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