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Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar

Peter T. 01 Mar 01 - 11:40 AM
katlaughing 01 Mar 01 - 12:29 PM
Lonesome EJ 01 Mar 01 - 01:06 PM
Clifton53 01 Mar 01 - 01:40 PM
Steve Latimer 01 Mar 01 - 01:44 PM
Biskit 01 Mar 01 - 02:54 PM
wysiwyg 01 Mar 01 - 03:31 PM
Wesley S 01 Mar 01 - 04:25 PM
Dharmabum 01 Mar 01 - 04:36 PM
JenEllen 01 Mar 01 - 05:53 PM
Amos 01 Mar 01 - 06:51 PM
katlaughing 01 Mar 01 - 07:17 PM
Amos 01 Mar 01 - 08:48 PM
Dharmabum 01 Mar 01 - 09:22 PM
SINSULL 01 Mar 01 - 09:31 PM
Rollo 01 Mar 01 - 09:35 PM
Lonesome EJ 01 Mar 01 - 11:49 PM
Amos 02 Mar 01 - 12:12 AM
Clifton53 02 Mar 01 - 12:22 AM
Noreen 02 Mar 01 - 07:02 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Mar 01 - 09:14 AM
Dharmabum 02 Mar 01 - 10:59 AM
catspaw49 02 Mar 01 - 11:55 AM
MMario 02 Mar 01 - 12:18 PM
katlaughing 02 Mar 01 - 12:44 PM
Lonesome EJ 02 Mar 01 - 02:02 PM
Amos 03 Mar 01 - 01:00 AM
wysiwyg 03 Mar 01 - 11:52 PM
JenEllen 04 Mar 01 - 12:49 AM
Amos 04 Mar 01 - 01:38 AM
Peter T. 04 Mar 01 - 08:21 AM
Dharmabum 04 Mar 01 - 01:33 PM
SINSULL 04 Mar 01 - 01:53 PM
John Hardly 04 Mar 01 - 10:26 PM
Peter T. 05 Mar 01 - 03:19 PM
katlaughing 05 Mar 01 - 03:30 PM
Lonesome EJ 05 Mar 01 - 03:47 PM
katlaughing 04 Jul 02 - 11:58 AM
Lonesome EJ 22 Jan 09 - 12:17 AM
GUEST,Jim P 22 Jan 09 - 01:47 AM
Peter T. 22 Jan 09 - 01:08 PM
katlaughing 23 Jan 09 - 12:24 AM
GUEST,wysiwyg minus cookie 07 Feb 16 - 01:13 PM
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Subject: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 11:40 AM

Perhaps this might strike the storyteller chord in some again:

When I was born, or how I was made, an expert might be able to tell you. All I know is that one day, I woke up, and there I was. I think that I had been played many times, and been through many hands, but one day as I was lying in an attic (at least that is how I can see it now, a sloping room, slanting light), under a lot of what might have been gypsy clothes, a young girl laughing, running, hiding, tripped over me, and I clanged into life. She stopped, and ran her fingers over my strings, and I awoke. And then, almost in the same movement, she ran on, responding to the sound of a voice from below. But for some reason, I was now awake. And since then, I have moved from hand to hand, from player to player, and oh, the stories that have been told upon this moving guitar. Let me tell you about one that happened, some time later....

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 12:29 PM

His fingers caressed my strings and neck as a lover of long ago. His touch was firm, knowing, sure of just where the notes would be perfect, the strum heartwrenching. He and I had been together for many years, singing together. I did feel so alive under his touch, until now.

Now he lay dying, his hand outstretched, holding me close...trying to sing the Song of the Next Realm. We'd been caught out with no one there to sing it for him, no one to help me sing the joyful song which would release my beloved master. Oh, how I longed to vibrate to his knowing caress, to quiver with deep sonorous strums, light brush of a lover's touch with melody....

In a last effort he raised his head from the pillow, called out my name, Sonora, and fell back...

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 01:06 PM

I was placed on a blanket in a small field of green grass, along with an assortment of old pictures, books, clothing and other family relics. Looking, up I saw the faces of many strangers...some friendly, others critical. At one point I was picked up by a man and placed in the hands of a red-haired boy, who banged on the strings, grunted, and pushed me back at his father. "I wanna real guitar," he said. Finally, it grew dark and the blanket was folded over me.

In the morning, the blanket was removed, and I soon saw a sympathetic face. She was a young woman with large brown eyes and curly dark hair, and she grinned when she saw me. She picked me up, placed her fingers carefully on my fretboard, and strummed a ringing A chord. She smiled more broadly, then turned the tuning pegs slightly and began to play a tune. The song was a warm, open one, strewn with major 7s and barre chords, and I felt that she, and I, and the song were integral parts of the same thing. Soon, I was placed gently in the backseat of a small car, and taken to a new home.

I was very happy. Everynight I played music, sometimes with friends of Andy (her name was Andrea), sometimes all alone, when she would strum a chord and then write quickly on a piece of paper, and often in a dark place before small crowds of people where my voice would ring to every corner of the room.

And the rooms grew larger, the crowds greater. Now I often found myself in the baggage hold of airplanes, or joining my voice to that of other instruments on a large stage. I soon had a new home, and I was placed upon a wall with others of my kind. But when Andy wished to write her songs, she always found me over the others.

One raining night, Andy met a young man as she carried me from the plane. She placed me on the trunk of the car as they embraced, and then opened the doors and climbed in. The rain pelted my case as I felt the shudder of the motor starting up. I slid backward in my case as the car accelerated, finally coming to rest against a narrow piece of metal. I clung here for miles, until the car made a sudden turn, and I was spilled out into the highway.

The truck churned toward me, headlights cutting through the falling rain. I heard the squeal of brakes, then a pair of hands lifted me up.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Clifton53
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 01:40 PM

"I'll be damned", he just kept saying that every few minutes or so. It was warm and dry now. After a while the truck stopped and the outside was lit up like Christmas morning, trucks and people everywhere.

The truck driver came around to the side where I rested, just now feeling a bit more normal. My case opened up again and I felt the hands lift me out of there.

"I'll be damned".

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 01:44 PM

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Biskit
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 02:54 PM


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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: wysiwyg
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 03:31 PM

When her father brought me home, little did I know the joys I would soon have. It was a large family, full of life and love, and she shared me generously. Soon my nicks and scratches had been loved and polished into my tone, and when she passed by my hanging spot on the wall I could call to her to take me down to play.

And play! Play we did. We played in the summer dusk, we played in winter's chill. We played among springtime-sprouted lovers, and we played amid the sweet smell of autumn's blood red sunsets. We played past breathless abandon, we played till hearts raced and burst into their full selves.

Oh, we played... and as we played-- though she grew older and her head was crowned with silver, and though my refurbishments were so frequent I seemed almost brand new-- she somehow grew younger and younger as I grew richer and deeper.

By the time she was supple enough to pass into the other world, I was as her great-great grandmother as I kissed her forehead for safe journey and farewell.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Wesley S
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 04:25 PM

Before she passed on she left me to her second son - the one who had spent so many hours at her knee sharing the songs she loved so well. Early in the morning before he had to be on his way to school he would streach his hands around my neck and slowly coax out of the the familar songs that I had played so many times on her knee. It's no suprise - the songs that came out of me were most often pointed directly at him and they had been caught on his soul. The songs were as much the fabric of the womans family as the old comforter the woman slept under during her last days. And no family gathering was considered complete until I came out and shared music, laughter and songs with the family. I had become an heirloom and a treasure. An icon that identified the family and brought them together in the best and worst of times. I lived with the second son for many years.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Dharmabum
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 04:36 PM

"Look,...I could sell ya one of these brand new Martins or Gibsons. But I wantcha ta take a look at sumpthin that jus' came in".
He opened my case & jently handed me over.
"I don't know much about it, cept that it belonged to a woman outside a town.Her grandaughter brought it in after she passed away.I can make ya a good deal on it".
He cradled me into his lap like I was one of his kids.Jently running his hands up my neck, I felt something that was strangly familiar.I knew he had the strenth to choke & bend my strings, yet just the right amount of finesse to make me sing so beautifully.
Then I started to sing....First a little blues....Then a little bit of Freight Train.......And we knew.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: JenEllen
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 05:53 PM

There wasn't much he remembered before the time of the blanket. He dreamed from time to time about being solid and tickled by the wind, but it was all in dreams, and none of that mattered now.

The morning sun shone through the cracked panes of the cabin, and to that low spot where he lay wrapped. The reds and blues of the woven blanket encircled him in a fitful slumber. The cot above him creaked as his man rolled above him. Grunts and squeals as the human form reached for it's boots and a morning cup of coffee.

These two weren't alone. The grumblings of other forms in the cabin began to emerge from the post-dawn silence. The humans continued to mutter amongst themselves as they headed out the door...

"Gawdammit Red, you seen that pine tar anywheres?"
"We should get that two- hunnert head outta Snipes Meadow by lunchtime..
"You headin' into town? Pick up s'more masa and drop this letter to my kids in a mailbox somewheres?

The bundle in the blanket waited. It wouldn't be long now until they returned. The lice in the beds crawled among the woolens, and a spider spun her web in a corner without fear of being struck down. He was far from being alone here. Along with the numberous insects and rodents that frequented the bunkhouse during the day, he waited with his new found companions, for the return of the humans.

He thought longingly of the night before, when the calloused hands reached below the bed and gently grabbed him by the neck. When the blanket fell from his shoulders, he found himself cradled in the arms of a man. With the small Franklin crackling away in the corner, the humans gathered. Some nights, the whole bunkhouse shook with the laughter and stomping feet of the humans, but nights like last night were the best. His friends came out of their daytime hiding places, and a lot of them used to be solid too. The fiddle always rested slyly on a shelf, while the banjo was propped gracelessly in a corner. The mouthharp got to travel a bit more than they, but he knew for a fact he'd MUCH rather be left bundled in his blanket than riding in some cow-poker's snot-rag all day.

The man cradled him again tonight, the slight skiff of snow on his arms melting and steaming in the heat of the stove. The voices were softer than the ones that morning, work had tamed the volume of their voices, but not of their hearts.

"Shee-ut. I tell you whut, one of these day's I'm gonna quit this life. Hell, lookit this, my son's almost five now. You know I ain't seen that boy but oncet since he was born..."
"He's the only feller I know where you can work for him for a season and still owe HIM money.."
"Red, wontcha play us somethin' purty?"

The work weary hands grasped him again, and his own voice let loose in response to the pressure of the man's fingers.
"My rose of old Pawnee
My flower of the dawn
Blooming tenderly
Her memory still lingers on
My angel of the night
Of moonlight reverie
A star of love so bright
Shines on my rose of old Pawnee..."

The warm voices of the fiddle, banjo, and harp mixed with his. The men joined in. The guitar knew he would dream of this when sunshine warmed his blanket again.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Amos
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 06:51 PM

You guys are STUPENDOUS!!!! BRAVO!!!!!



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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 07:17 PM

Oh, Jenellen, that sounds like somethin' my daddy woulda told! Yeehaw, womon!

Wonderful, everyone. Thanks, Peter, for another great catalyst!

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Amos
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 08:48 PM

The days turned into nights, and the weeks to months; the season for working the ranges passed and before the second snow of the year passed we had relocated, Red and me, to a bunkhouse that was much bigger than the range station shack. I loved sitting in Red's lap of an evening, listening to the tales and most of all, being brought up to his knee and fired up in his own briliant way. He knew my secrets, he knew where I could be touched to sing out loud, and how I could be coaxed to bring my best colors out in the gentle wavering rise and fall of a Mexican lullaby. I love hearing htem swap news, thinking of the songs it could be made into, passing the word about old man Chisholm and his plans for a drive next spring, hearing the whispers about that Lincoln County war and the half-mad, half-hero kid called Billy when the news came around about how he'd gotten away alive. I loved hearing rumours about Siux and someone remembering someone who rode with Bridger, and someone else talling how the bayous smelled when the cotton came to bloom where he came from. I didn't like the aruments or care much for the one they called Preacher Slim, because he talked so much; but sometimes Red would steer him around, picking my strings one or two notes at a time until Slim would just be drawn in and give over all that Testament stufff and just lean back and let out with Nigher My god to Thee or maybe Jacob's Ladder, and he could sing like a morning bird so I always loved it when Red would get him started and I could back him up with my best sweet tones.

But toward the end of that long winter and spring, a different kind of news started taking up those evning hours after chuck, and I got left under my blanket longer, and more often. The boys and Red would raise their voices and get to arguing about territories, and States and Abolitonists, and one time nearly broke the walls down with their arguing when it came to pushing; and another time the one they called Galveston Joe nearly landed on top of me, when Red decided the discussion called for a well-made connection between his strong left hand and Galveston's nose for some reason i didn't understand; and it would have been the end of me, as Joe weighed a good 200 pounds on the hoof, Red once said.

The spring began, and the men were talking about the drive and talking about a place called Sumter, and I spent more and more of my days alone....

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Dharmabum
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 09:22 PM

Sometimes it feels like Interstate 80 is never going to end. I could've sworn this old microbus was going to blow apart climbing that last hill.
God,what's it been now......20 years we've been traveling around together. I guess we've both got the scratches & scars to prove it. I remember the time he got drunk and fell off the stage with me,damn near broke my neck.....and his. He CAN be an asshole at times. But he is ,after all,ONLY HUMAN.
. Seems kind of funny somehow,we're the only constant thing in each others lives. Two marriages,two divorces,at least a hundred smoke filled barrooms where the people were more interested in the hockey game on the tv, & I'm pretty sure his second wife was jelous of me.
Yet we're still playing music together.
And to think,he almost bought a brand new Martin.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 09:31 PM

This kid can't play for crap. Two chord maximum. But she flutters her eyes and tosses her hair and he may as well be Dylan. I am sick to tears of sophomoric rantings about Plato and reality and war and peace. Idiot leaves me baking in the sun while he sits in the shade and smokes. I'd gve anything to be back under the blanket. Or even tied to the back of a horse. The Sixties suck.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Rollo
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 09:35 PM

Then came the days of the cellar. Dark and damp and haunted with the spirits of long-gone days... stowed away on a cupboard, next to a battered suitcase, overlooking a mess of broken tools, and dreaming of the time when my voice spoke to the hearts of listening people...

Oh how I missed that feeling in the stomach, the twaing of the strings, shaking every fibre of my body, making me laugh, or weep, or even growl with anger...

But now there was the big silence. Only occasionally a strong breeze through the broken window made rock the cupboard a little, and the movement let stirr the srings a bit... but not enough...

and at last there were hands again. Not loving, speaking ones, but strong and careless did they grab me and carried me into the damp rain outside, where I was dumped between an old chair with three legs and my neighbor the suitcase. Together with the moisture of the rain some light did fall through a gap in my case, and I saw my furnish for the first time after my longlasting imprisonment. Oh dear... Surely this was it...

But then again someone held my neck. He was wrapped in a smelly old cloak, his face was red from weather and whiskey. But in his crackling voice I heard something I had missed for a long time: the joy of music!

"Oh deary deary me!" He muttered. "You are as battered as I am, Madam! But you still have got all your strings on you... Well, maybe we will fit together! And maybe we will earn sum money together? People give when you make music for them, eh, Madam?" And tumming my strings more or less rythmically he croaked: "Irene, good Night, Irene, Irene good Niiiiiiiight..." But for me it sounded like heavenly trumpets, and I gave my best to join in ans we stumbled through the rain...

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 01 Mar 01 - 11:49 PM

The long-haired kid with his two chords and his weak poetry. I was actually relieved when he stuck me in a basement corner that day, the day he came home with his hair cut off and wearing the red, white and blue uniform. His Mom cried, and his Dad said how proud he was of him, and he was gone. Except for his little brother trying to play Louie Louie on me, I fell into a long sort of sleep. And I remembered (dreamed?) all of those others who had drawn music from my frame, and for a long time that was plenty.

Then one day, the kid's mom wrapped me up in a wool blanket, put me in the case, and took me to the airport. Innumerable bumps and drops later, I felt myself swelling in a tropical heat, and when the case opened and the cover was removed, there was the kid again. He wasn't wearing the bright uniform, though. He had green fatigues on, and fatigue in his eyes as well. But they lit up when he saw me.

Yes, he had improved. He left some ash-burns on my spruce top, but the songs came from deeper down. And he had four chords now. I was kept in a canvas bag under a metal bunk for some time, but later my bed was the corner of a room dug from the earth. I made music for the kid and his friends almost every night, even when the loud bass vibrations shook the earth, and made them pause in their singing. Sometimes the kid left tear stains on my finish, and I had to admit he had the soul to bring from me my best. But he didn't have the time.

One day he just didn't return, and I was again bundled away, and awoke to the noise and light of a busy shop on a busy street. I was price-tagged and hung in a window, where I watched the new and shiny instruments leave one by one. The man changed the tag, then changed it again, then placed me on a dark shelf at the back of the store.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Amos
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 12:12 AM

At first I believed she would pass me by, like all the others. The dust was thick on my frets, now, my strings were slack, my tuning gears thick with old oil and dust. But my body!!! My body yearned to sing, just once again. Ever ancient fiber of rosewood and teak, hidden by the tears of long disuse, yearned for it and vowed it would give its best if ever it again had the chance.

She was older than others whom I could recall -- in her middle age, showing her own kind of wear, her clothes as meager as my own finish. But I sensed in her eyes there was a thin light, that would never be extinguished, of a younger soul who had once thrilled to my kind of singing. She turned back, there at the dark end of the old shop, and reached up and took hold of me, touching me with a tenderness I had not felt in centuries. She tightened my old worn strings and touched me lightly, bringing out a ringing series of quiet notes, bright in the dusk. Then she strummed more firmly, and I felther thin and gentle fingers settling in to a long forgottenwhythm in space and time -- a Travis pick of intricacy and grace that I had not felt in my bones for longer than hope.

She sang then, in that dank pawnshop, for a few mibutes transporting us both to a different space and time, where sunshine and earth ruled instead of neon and concrete, and I thrilled to her quiet, deft, quickly remembered touches, and the gentle resonance of her voice recalling ancient songs.

"There is a ship, and she sails the sea," she sang.
"Loaded full deep, as deep can be". And although we cannot weep, still I wept with and for her.
"But not as deep as this love I am in...
And know not how I sink or swim.".

And as her soft quavering voice faded to the vibrations of my string, I knew I had been reborn, rejoined, and re-found. And she did, I think, too.

Sally -- I would learn her name only later -- dug deep into her jeans and hauled out a wrinkled ten-spot.

" I'm only givin' you seven for it." she told the thick-faced indifferent man in the teeshirt.

"I need dinner tonight."

And even in the quiet of a long ride in her bouncy little car, way out along the smaller roads in the back country removed from town, sitting in the passenger seat with the stars gleaming in and the spring winds coming in through the window, I sang for joy, sang for salvation, sang for celebrating, all the long way home.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Clifton53
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 12:22 AM

" They can all kiss my ass" he thought, stumbling through those twisted Saigon streets and that freakin' sun beatin' and higher than a pill-box hat. "I'm freakin' short and I'm enjoyin' this shit".

"Won't be long now" he grumbled, "two more days and a wake-me-the-fuck-up and I'm gone"!

The little window caught his eye, and in his stupor he thought he'd get somethin' for little brother Joe. Maybe a necklace, or a trinket or something.

He stumbled around, ignoring the keeper and ending up way in the back amongst the detritus and the goods of the forsaken. And then, it shone in his eye like this hell-fire sun he'd been fighting for two years.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Noreen
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 07:02 AM

...shivers down the spine... Thank you all.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 09:14 AM

A consciousness grew upon me. It had been there all along I suppose but this time it was much more intense.

I became acutely aware of my mother, growing tall and green in the rich loam of the forest before being shaped by the hand of man. Of my father, languishing long in deep caverns before being brought forth into the heat and noise that made him what he is. Of their twinning under the hand of the craftsman that married them, although such an unlikely pair they seemed. The elements had to become one before I could be born.

Then there was the tingling. A million tiny voices whispered in thoughts. My brothers and sisters whom I thought lost! They were still there. Always had been. They spoke a myriad of languages. Voices that cried, sighed, laughed and shouted. They told me I was of them. Of the earth. Some whispered insidious accusations about their shapers. Some berated their masters as monsters who would destroy all. Others sang of the wonders created by the beings we share the planet with. I was confused. I had not seen these wonders, nor these horrors. My mind span with the enormity of my new being.

Then I was caressed once more. Sweet sounds issued and all was calm. I was at peace and my kin no longer worried me. My consciousness moved beyond the doubt and I saw the truth. While such beauty existed those darker thoughts could never prevail. The beings that made the music, that created the wonders, could never let the destroyers prevail.

Could they?

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Dharmabum
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 10:59 AM

I can hear them in the other room. Their muffled voices gently vibrate the wall upon which I hang. This is a peacefull place,a place he thought he'd never find. A place where sometimes the room fills with the smell of fresh baked bread & chamomile tea.
We still sing alot,but now she sings with us,making the most beautiful harmonies. And sometimes we write songs for her and tell her stories about the road.
There was a time, a long time, when we didn't sing. I just sat silently in my case,listening to the sound of the tv set every night. Oh,he'd take me out on the rare occasion,tune my strings,and try to recapture the magic that we once made together.But soon I would fall silent, & rest in his lap while his attention drifted.
He almost sold me,for a down payment on a new car.It was as if he was trying to forget about all those years we had together. As if it was too painfull to bring the memories to the surface.He acted as if it had all been a big waste of time & energy.
But she stopped him,dead in his tracks.She stopped his heart with such a stone cold finality he had no choice but to surrender.Somehow,she knew what we needed,even when we didn't.
But mostly,she stopped him from selling me.
And now we all sing together.Sometimes ballads or blues,& what she likes to call "Antique Folk Songs".
But her favorite is "Goodnight Irene".She says her father used to sing it to her when she was a little girl.
And we love to tell her the story about the day we learned that song.
"We had picked up this old guy standing by the side of the road in the rain. He proceded to tell us about how he had just found this guitar in someones garbage"..........

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 11:55 AM

Nice job guys..........

I was alive in the forest.
I was cut by the cruel axe.
In life I was silent.
In death I sweetly sing.
............anon and a traditional luthier's saying originally found in a violin maker's shop.


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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: MMario
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 12:18 PM

In the darkness again. But I am not only in the darkness.

I am cradled in a multitude of hands. Young hands and old, fumbling hands and hands that make me shiver with their experience. And I sing for them all; loudly or quietly, softly or stridently. I sing into the silences between lives; betwee thoughts.

I look out over a sea of faces, screaming with excitement as I sing over wires filled with pulsing energy. I see a single form before me, innocence tucked beneath downfilled coverlets as I lull her to sleep. I see classrooms filled with wondering students; coffee houses and pubs flash before my eyes along with a host of friends old and new.

I sing a million songs in a million different voices. I sing in toungues and languages of every kind. I will always sing. I must sing.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: katlaughing
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 12:44 PM

Discarded, now I lay amongst the dirt and detritus of a forest, near an old cabin gone to rot and ruin. I am exposed to all of the elements and can feel my old bones giving way, taking a turn at fertilising the wee saplings that have taken root around me, through me, my strings long since rusted to ashes. Every once in a while the wind touches what is left of my neck and I recall a time in the long ago when I had energy and will to sing...and then, I sigh and let go another sliver, until finally I am a disintegration of slivers, tiny, decomposing, sinking in, nurturing; though I still hover near, I have no body left with which to sing.

One day, a long time later, I am stirred from my slumber. The saplings have grown so tall I cannot feel any sunshine on my ashes anymore. I hear a familiar sound, a voice of the Clan of Caressers, the ones who knew how to make me sing when I was. Listening carefully, I find they have chosen one of my saplings, those I nourished. They are going to cut short its Forest Life and help it find a voice, help it to sing. I slip from among my leftovers, imbue the sapling with my Spirit Voice and rejoice in the new life I shall embark on through the loving hands of those who have come to hew my sapling. Softly I remember a song, I'm just a living legacy....

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 02 Mar 01 - 02:02 PM

If you look closely, beneath the layers of old shellac, you can make out some fancy lettering: Cactus Tom Wilson. Yes, the Last of the Singing Cowboys himself. Did you ever see that photograph of Cactus Tom sitting on his faithful companion Prairie King? No, that was the horse....his faithful female companion was Louise LaRue. Anyway, in that picture, I'm the guitar he's playing as he and Prairie King lope along the Great Divide. Oh, yes, I had quite a movie career in the late 40s. I figured prominently in Duel at Delgato,The Lonesome Rustler, and Apache Afternoon. I had my own trailer in those days, and Tom would only let me be filmed for an hour at a time, for fear the hot sun and bright lights would crack my top. It was a lot different for Willie Bob's guitar. You remember Willie Bob, Tom's goofy sidekick? He rode a broken-down mule and usually turned up during Tom's gunfights just so he could clobber one of the bad guys over the head with his battered guitar.

Tom and I were inseparable until 1952. That's the year he signed for his biggest role in The Man with the Red Guitar. Sure, Tom gave a thought to painting me red, but the producers wanted something "new and exciting", so the role went to a Les Paul. It was never the same after that. The Les Paul had none of my warm tone, but Tom fell for the flash and the high-style fret inlays. Then the bad news really arrived...I was to replace the old broken six-string that Willie Bob had finally broken over the head of William Demarest in Ranch on the Rapids. A prop man came by Tom's Beverly Hills home and picked me up, but he left me in the car at Bob's Big Boy where his girlfriend worked. Two teenagers in a jalopy pulled up next to the prop man's car, and in the nick of time my Hollywood Career was over, and I found myself playing Eddie Cochran covers for a duck-tailed kid in a garage band.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Amos
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 01:00 AM

LEJ, you still have that golden tongue, man!!! Eddie Cochran covers!!! LMAO!!!


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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: wysiwyg
Date: 03 Mar 01 - 11:52 PM

In the Great Craft Hall of All Souls, the Master Soulmaker was finishing up his latest creation in the rose light of dawn. It has been a long night... he had put so much of himself into this one! Yet he was not tired at all.

"This is a special one," he said to himself, "a really special one. She's made for a certain purpose... but it's best she choose her life and her form, herself."

Taking the finished soul tenderly in hand, he said to her, "I've made you to fit a body that will be deeply curved and abundantly round. You will have a long, graceful, strong neck, and your head will be crowned with stars that can be seen from anywhere in the universe. Your skin will glow fairest colors as light catches your smoothnesses. And your voice-- you will have a voice so sweet and so rich that people will weep at your slightest whisper. "

The soul smiled at this last, for more than anything she had hoped for such a voice. "What kinds of forms shall I choose among?" she asked.

"I will call the Guildmasters to show you," he replied. "You will have four days to consider your choice, and you must look well in these four days. There is much to consider. But I am sure that before the fourth sun has set, you will find your life and your form."

First summoned was the Master Gardener. He took the soul into his care and they spent the rest of that first day wandering through all the gardens that had ever been. (The Gardener had each one living in miniature in his Hall.) The soul communed with eggplants, butternut squashes, and pears, but no.... speak they did, telling tales of seasons passing in turn and their delight in life from seedling to harvest-- but none spoke as she wished to speak. The feel of warm sunlight, the cool thrill of water rising through stalks, the deep satisfaction of nutrients leaching up from dark dirt-- she was sad to leave all these glories behind, but at sunset the Master Gardener returned her to the Master Soulmaker. She rested in the Great Craft Hall of All Souls, dreaming of the sights she had seen and the choices she had considered.

The second morning the Master Cabinetmaker was brought to meet the young soul. She took the young soul in hand and spent the day showing her how woods were bent and smoothed into lovely rocking chairs, bow-fronted chests of drawers, and console tables. The soul loved the grains, colors, and finishes. The cabriole legs of the tables were so graceful that she almost... but no. Speak they did, these handsome furnishings, of richly appointed castles where their larger counterparts lived-- but none spoke as she wished to speak. At sunset the Master Cabinetmaker returned her to the Master Soulmaker. She rested in the Great Craft Hall of All Souls, dreaming of the sights she had seen and the choices she had considered.

The third morning the Master Husbandman was brought to take his turn with the young soul. He gathered her under his arm, mounted his partnerbeast, and away they rode through the breezes. The soul met large and small cats, swans of all colors, and even a magical goose. The fur, the feathers, the dancing eyes-- all were loveliness upon loveliness. And each creature spoke of places to be seen, smells to breathe in, mates to meet, and night wanderings to plan.... but no, none spoke as she wished to speak. At sunset the Master Husbandman returned her to the Master Soulmaker.

Many souls would have been troubled to have only the one day left from which to choose a life and a form. But the Master Soulmaker was wise, and had chosen well upon whom to bestow this privilege. The soul rested in the Great Craft Hall of All Souls, dreaming of the sights she had seen and the choices she had considered.

On the fourth morning, the Master Physician was sent for. She nestled the soul into a soft blanket and set off with her to see the many, many forms of humankind. The soul roamed with nomads, tilled soil with farmers, hunted with preystalkers, labored with machinists, formed young minds with teachers, cared for the sick with doctors.... hours on end creating with artists of all sorts.... oh there were so many lives to lead! And the beauty of the human race-- so many forms possible among humankind! And the voices-- the variety of voices, and the rise and fall of cadenced speech! She was so happy in the company of children, amid their the shouts of laughter. She was drawn to the musical murmuring of mothers and the deep, prideful swagger in new fathers' voices. And the wise, time-burnished chuckles of the elders were just about right.

"I think I will be able to choose very soon now," she thought to herself as they returned to the Master Physician's Hall. "I could ask the Master Physician to craft a beautiful human form for me. Long, dark, cascading curls.... skin the color of coffee and milk... the long, limber bones of the nomads..... the smooth, bunched muscles of the farmers..... the deftness of skilled laborers... " She went on thinking and planning as they walked the long walk back to the Hall of the Master Physician.

Just outside the Master Physician's Hall, they were met by the Master Soulmaker. The sun had just begun to set.

"You're back a bit early," he said. "Are you ready to choose so soon?"

"Not quite," said the soul, "though I believe I have made a good start on what I would ask for my life and my form."

"What do you see for your life?" inquired the Master Soulmaker.

"Of all the lives I saw, I could not resist the beauty and strength of purpose among the artists," she said. "I could see that no matter what else their lives might hold, they could always give to others in endless abundance. I think I might like to be a singer," she said, "so that I can use the wonderful voice you tell me is my birthright for the highest good possible. And I know that you had a purpose in your heart as you created me-- I have felt it stirring these four days."

"Did you meet the musicians, my child?" asked the Soulmaker.

"No," said the soul, "for they had gone off on a journey. But among all the humankind I met, they spoke most eagerly and lovingly of the songs that had sustained them through their lives. So I think I must be meant to be a singer. Is that it? Did you make me to sing?" she asked.

"My child, if you wish to be a singer, you will be a great one. But it is not right that you make such an important choice without having met my singers... for how else will you know which part is yours to sing?"

"Part?" she asked. "There is more than one?"

"Oh yes," said the Soulmaker. "They are made to join with one another, you see.... so there must be many kinds of singers, many voices."

The Soulmaker smiled at the great Master Physician as he stretched out his long, sinewy arm to take charge of the new little soul he had made so lovingly just four days before.

"Come with me," he said. "There is time yet, and I must introduce you properly. They're just coming back now from their mission. They'll tell you all about it, in song, as they give me their report."

Off they went to the Great Craft Hall of All Souls. As they approached, they could hear the most beautiful thing ever created by man or Master-- music, pouring out of the Hall, reverberating from the stones, echoing down the passages, trickling out from the highest, tiniest attic windows. Even the chimney smoke seemed to dance to the rhythm. He smiled down at the soul, who was now trembling with a deep awe.

Inside, the company had set up their song circle. Each sang and played the tale of their part of the great mission in which they had been engaged. Singing, yes, and instruments. She looked about, from face to face, fiddle to fife, drum to banjo... she did not even know the names of all she saw, but she knew she was nearly home.

The soul listened as each voice, human and instrument, lifted and blended with others. She saw the play between fingers and strings.... she reveled in all she saw and heard, appreciating for the first time the full richness of the Soulmaker's skill and wisdom.

After what seemed like hours of song, her gaze fell upon a young man in the circle. He was singing with the others, but seemed to sit in a sort of hollowed slump. His lap looked bereft, empty, missing something made to fit just so... and within the soul there leaped a spark of pure certainty. She didn't even know she had spoken, but said--quite definitively, "I want to be part of HIM," she said. "He is missing something--- ME." She turned to the Soulmaker. "Make me part of all that," she said, "and part of HIM. Can you?"

The Master Soulmaker beckoned the young man over to his side and held the soul out for him to see. The young man reached across to take her... and her song began, though she did not know it. She started low and husky, curving up to a clear ringing tone.

"I don' wanna be your woman! (no!)
I don' wanna be your friend' (nuh uh!)
I jes' wanna lay across your lap
My strings your fingers bend...

Be your geetar baby,
That's what I wanna be!
Be your go-everwhere geetar, honey,
Set ourselves and everyone free."

The young man heard her song, along with the Soulmaker, although no one else seemed to. As she sang, of course, her form took shape. And just as the Soulmaker had envisioned, she fit the young man perfectly from his head to his heart. Shoulder to soul, muscle to mind-- she became his home, and he hers.

The Soulmaker smiled. Looking into the man's eyes, and caressing her purfled shoulder, he said to them both, "I told you it would only take four days."

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: JenEllen
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 12:49 AM

As a guitar, well, I wasn't all that great. Too much hard living and rough handling leaves it's mark on an axe, but there is one night in particular that I can tell you about.

My current life is with Dean. He's bounced me around this city on a strap that's made out of some neon rainbow shoelaces. The glittery kind. I can't remember the last time I was in tune, and I can't remember a time when I was ever so loved.

Dean's a good man. We work the night desk at the Stop-n-Go Motel. Most of the time I'm outta tune because he keeps me under the desk, and there's been more than once I was kind of 'thrown' there when the boss-man showed up.

Anyway, that night...
Me and DeanO was hanging out in the lobby behind the bulletproof plexiglass, and he was working out the chords to another one of his 'done somebody wrong' songs when they walked in.
Seven cent cotton and forty cent meat, How in the world can a poor man eat? Mules in the barn, no crops laid by, Corn crib empty and the cow's gone dry. Well water low, nearly out of sight, Can't take a bath on Saturday night. No use talking, any man is beat With seven cent cotton and forty cent meat.
That's what old DeanO was playing. I can remember it like it was yesterday. Him fingerpicking all to hell.

He saw that couple, and the look in that gal's eye when he told her she couldn't take a bath on a Saturday night. Hell, that's why most of the girls hook around this motel. They can get a man to take them here for a roll, and then they can use all the hot water in the joint.

It wasn't that long before 'Missus Smith' made her way back to the front desk.
"Whatcha playing DeanO?" with her chewed fingernails tapping on the glass
An old Dean replies with a tickle down my neck and:
On her back she has tattooed a map of Ireland And when she takes her bath on Saturday, She rubs the Sunlight Soap around by Claddagh Just to watch the suds go down by Galway Bay. (cheeky bastard...I do love him)

"Very funny, wiseass" says the gal, and she reaches over the dutchdoor to let herself into the office. "Whatcha got to drink in here?"

DeanO got up and real casual-like handed me to her so he could get her a soda from the fridge. She tensed up and held me at arm's length like I was full of termites or something, and DeanO got to laughing just to look at her.
"Sit down" he says "Here, put your fingers like this..."

Those chewed little fingers held me in the grip of death. It was the most gawd-awful chord I think I've ever strangled out of my strings. As soon as the notes left me though, I felt her relax. I could swear she laughed too.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Amos
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 01:38 AM

What mastery you two are showing th world! I am awe struck at these wimmin. Just awe struck. Wish I could write like some of you guys!


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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 08:21 AM

Nice stories told on the moving guitar. yours, Peter T.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Dharmabum
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 01:33 PM



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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 01:53 PM

I found an old Aria in the trash about a year ago, took it home, dusted it off, and donated it to a local flea market. I wonder where he is and where he's been. This is wonderful guys. LEJ - amazing stuff!

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: John Hardly
Date: 04 Mar 01 - 10:26 PM

How DO I find myself so often tangled in the melodrama of the humans around me?

Well, I'm used to springing surprises but not holding secrets. How and why did Dean think I would be the perfect vehicle to pass on such information to "Missus Smith", and how did he know he'd come to such an end?

...well I guess when you live (if you can call it live)..around here..not the safest, y'know. I'm really gonna miss him. Rarely have I had a human so capable of coaxing my best out of me and...Oh, here she comes...

Look my way, Missus! Look my way and pick me know..just the way Dean had been teaching you..YEAH. That's it.

"What's this" I hear her say as she notices the Intellitouch Tuner affixed to my headstock. "I don't remember Dean tellin' me 'bout no tuner. In fact, I thought I remember him telling me his ears were better than any tuner."...

She picks me up and I feel her tears fall on my upper bout. She's obviously missing Dean as much as I. Then, as Dean had obviously predicted, she strummed me with a flourish only to make the surprised sour face as she realized that, for the first time ever, she's just heard me out of tune.

She says, "I know this isn't right..let's see..s'pose to be E..A..D.., But this tuner thing says it's F..A..C..E..E..D."

"Hey, that's kinda, almost a FACE ED. Hey little guitar, Where's ED?"

"Jeeeez, Y'know li'l guitar, if I was making some kinda bad movie, I'd have it read like some kinda message from Dean an' all. You know, like a message from beyond or something."


"What about "face E(east)". But then what's "D"". Oh yeah, I remember what D is. Dean always showed me that D is the only chord that's shaped like the letter"

With that, missus slowly and deliberately forms her fingers on the strings as Dean showed her and..strums..and..


"Oh yeah!" She says. "It's still out of tune."

She turns the keys and reads as the letters change on the tuner..E..A..D..G..B..E.."There." She says.

Again she forms the "D" shape and, as her imaginary scenario demanded, even faced east as she unleashed a loud D strum...

From across the room, on the opposite wall, a small door opened behind a framed document that, until this moment just looked part of the shabby surroundings.

Inside was...

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 03:19 PM

It was a hard time, and at least once he held me in his hands and I knew he was weighing whether he should sell me or not. It was not the money: it was that all the music had gone out of his life, and he did not know anything anymore.
Perhaps if he got rid of everything, perhaps.
Finally, his brother tried to rescue him. He sat him down, apologised, and said that mother and father were deeply concerned over him, and here was enough money for him to take that trip he had always wished to America. Perhaps he would find something there.
Both brothers wept, and got drunk, and then his brother went away, and he spent it all on more drink and on prostitutes. And then there was a day when there was nothing left of all that his parents had given him.
His brother gave up on him, yelled at him, almost hit him, which was unheard of.
He sat with me on his lap, shaking.
His uncle came in, and sat down. "What does all this mean?"
"I don't know," he replied. "I am sorry about the money, but what would going to America have done for me?"
"You have done nothing since you graduated university. You have aged your mother. "
"I know. I cannot help it. I am not like this guitar. This is what I cannot understand. There is nothing inside it, it is hollow like my soul, and yet it can be played, and out of that emptiness comes music. "
"You are mad. It plays because there are strings attached, because someone wants to play it, because someone has skills to play it, because that is what guitars are made for. "
"But why? That is what I do not know. I look past the flimsy strings, and all I see inside is a hollow darkness."
"Oh," said the uncle. "Is that what it is? You are young, you are having a spiritual crisis! Is there a woman?"
"No" said the young man. "There is no woman."
"Well," said the uncle, a smile appearing on his face. "This is easily fixed! We will send you to your cousin's temple in the West. You need some monastery time. That is what we had in my day. Monastery time. Get it out of your system, and then you can get cracking." And he bustled off.
The brother returned, and sat down. "I apologise, I have spoken to uncle, and he explained it all to me. A spiritual crisis, well, why not? You had us terribly worried. We had a family meeting, and we agreed to give you some more money, but this time it is a ticket to our cousin's temple in the West, and he has agreed that we will pay for your room and board from here, so there can be no hanky-panky this time."

And the day came for him to go, and he put me on his lap, and looked down into the soundhole, as if he were looking down into the well of his soul. Tears filled his eyes, and then he leaned me up against a wall, and, not carrying anything, closed and locked the door behind him.

It was quiet now, but in one sense the room could breathe again because he was gone, his darkness no longer pervaded the air. The light of day illumined the motes of dust; and night fell, and lamplight from the street created its strange geometrical patterns on the floors and walls. This happened again and again, for weeks.

I suppose his desperate frozen questioning had affected me in ways I did not fully recognise; because, perhaps like him, I wondered, in the silence that ensued, for the first time, about what it was that I was.
So many stories and so many songs had been told upon my strings, and I had helped, but I had also hurt. The happy, helping times were easy to think about: when I was an instrument for their joy and awakening. But now I could not help thinking about the other times. Once I had watched a poor child dreaming of me, as he stopped on his way to his factory work to look in the pawn shop window, and knowing that he would never be able to have me. I had been the vehicle for songs that were sung to indifferent women and stupid men; I had been a disdained present for someone who wanted a "new guitar", not the only guitar his parents could afford, and I had been flung aside in shame.

I wondered if wondering what one was was a sign of unhappiness, or a sign of strength.

The days passed, and I sat in the silence, and I began to become frightened that I would never be played again. I dreamed terrible dreams, dreams where I was smashed into millions of pieces against the wall; dreams where I was played, but no sound came out; dreams where no matter what or who played me, everything was warped and lost. Dreams where a young man looked down into my soundhole, and never came back up out of the darkness.

And one morning a key rattled in the door, and it was opened. The uncle and the brother entered, and looked around, with sorrow on their faces.
"I could not ask your mother to do this," said the uncle.
"No," said the brother, "no". And they opened up the few drawers, and brought in boxes, and emptied the closets.
Finally, when they had broken for a snack, and were sitting on some upended boxes, the uncle said: "Do you want the guitar?"
The brother said: "No, I can't play it. We should sell it, I guess."

And I was sold.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 03:30 PM

Oh, Peter!! WoW!!

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 05 Mar 01 - 03:47 PM

The master strikes again. Very nice, Peter.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: katlaughing
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 11:58 AM


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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 12:17 AM

Refresh, to see if Peter T's forgotten this one too

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: GUEST,Jim P
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 01:47 AM

This is a wonderful read; I missed it first time around. It does remind me of the fantastic story "Music, When Soft Voices Die" by Sharyn McCrumb in "The Rose and the Briar." The stock characters in most folk songs envisioned as eternal actors that perform the song in the minds of the performer and audience whenever a ballad is sung. The initial scene where "Jack" and "Dear Little Girl" act out a bar scene; after initially being afraid it was "El Paso" again and he'd have to be shot, Jack sees the Dear Little Girl:

"She was sloe-eyed and golden-skinned, with the gleaming body of a dancer. She was . . . well, she was Halle Berry." It seems that the singer knew what a "Yellow Rose of Texas" really was! I REALLY recommend that everyone read this story -- its worth getting the whole book (worthy for all the other essays there!) for.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: Peter T.
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 01:08 PM

No, I hadn't forgotten that one. I remember it because everyone seemed to write so well in it. Also, I remember that it was about that time that I read a quote from John Cage where he said, "I have tried to think of music not as an object like a shoe or a cup, but as something like the weather." In the story of the suicide, I was trying for that kind of mood -- dark weather -- which is often out of reach to understanding when one is trying to work out why everything is going so wrong.


Peter T.

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 12:24 AM

Thanks for the refresh, LeeJ. This has always been one of my favs. Just outstanding!

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Subject: RE: Another Mudcat Tale: The Moving Guitar
From: GUEST,wysiwyg minus cookie
Date: 07 Feb 16 - 01:13 PM

These fine stories by some of Old Mudcat's Best will live again tonight in Ohio's Celebration Circle of Song, Story, and Solidarity. What a great tribute to the Passed and intro to Mudcat Future, for folks here too young or busy to have found Mudcat before.


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