(There is a brief pause at the beginning of the recording – give it about 20 seconds)
This old guitar ain’t mine to keep
Just taking care of it now
It’s been around for years and years
Just waiting in its old case
It’s been up and down the country roads
It’s brought a tear and a smile
It’s seen its share of dreams and hopes
And never went out of style
The more I play it, the better it sounds
It cries when I leave it alone
Silently it waits for me
Or someone else I suppose
“This Old Guitar” Neil Young
Woody Guthrie’s Gibson J-45 carried a sticker that said “This machine kills Fascists” – a suggestion of his own belief in the power of his guitar and his songs. That particular guitar, one of the classic workhorses of folk and country music, has become an icon of popular music in America and worldwide.
Today on Great River Radio, we’re going to explore songs about the guitar – one of the key elements of much of popular music from the last century. The feelings that people, both players and listeners, have about the guitar can be profound – musicians tend to love their instruments – not theoretically, but actually, forming a connection with the thing itself. And it is understandable – the instrument looks beautiful, can age gracefully, and provides a way for the player to express his or her deepest feelings. It is probably also true that the guitar can be a source of frustration – why doesn’t it say what I want it to say? There are certain things that are devilishly hard to do on this instrument.
We’ve gathered an entire show of songs, not with your favorite guitar solos, but about the guitar itself. We’ve got songs about guitars with names (you know B.B. King’s Lucille). And we’ve got songs about the long relationship that players have with their guitars and an acknowledgement that the instrument outlives the player, as Neil Young points out in “This Old Guitar” – making us stewards of something that can be a treasure of the material world. We’ll have a special documentary segment concerning one old guitar in particular, owned by one of your hosts.
Is the love of guitars a guy thing? You might think so if you listen to the many songs that claim that guys love their guitars more than they love their girls. Then to balance things out, we’ll have the “Girls with guitars” segment.
And, unfortunately, sometimes guitars get smashed … or drowned … or burned … and we’ll have some sad stories in that department, as well.
If you play guitar, or like hearing a guitar played well, or have ever heard a band with a guitar in it, you’ll love this collection of songs about our favorite instrument!
Join us at 4:15 p.m. (CST) today for Great River Radio.
Brian & Dan
Red Dog Speaks-Elvin Bishop
Red Guitar-Loudon Wainwright III
The Hummingbird-Darrell Scott
Perfectly Good Guitar-John Hiatt
The Guitar Song-Jamey Johnson
Two Men and a Guitar-Dan Gjelten and John Ydstie
This Old Guitar-Neil Young
This Guitar Is for Sale-John Prine
You and My Old Guitar-Jimmie Rodgers
Me and My Guitar-Freddie King
Girls With Guitars-Wynonna Judd
Rhythm Guitar-Emmylou Harris
Miss Williams’ Guitar-The Jayhawks
Kate’s Guitar (Live 1997)-Greg Brown
Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar-Doc & Merle Watson
While My Guitar Gently Weeps-The Beatles