Over the past 52 years, I’ve played six-string guitar, 12-string guitar, bass guitar or stand-up bass violin at one time or another. In middle school and high school I played the stand up bass in orchestra and the bass guitar and/or stand up bass in jazz band. I also played bass guitar in a band with my two older brothers from the time I was 10 years old. We practiced in the basement of our family home, and when the pictures would start falling off the walls upstairs, or the home-canned vegetables fell off the shelves in the basement, dad would let us know it was time to “turn it down or turn it off!”
After a few years I was totally burned out on the loud stuff, and picked up an acoustic guitar and started putting some of my own lyrics to music. For inspiration I looked to singer/songwriter types such as James Taylor, John Denver and Jim Croce. The group of musical and lyrical geniuses known as America also heavily influenced my writing and playing in the early days.
Since those days, I’ve played either bass, six-string guitar or 12-string guitar in top 40 cover bands, gospel groups, contemporary Christian bands, country music groups, and as a solo act. I’ve played in coffee-house venues, in roller rinks on Friday or Saturday nights, in “honky-tonk” venues, in private clubs, in churches, and in front rooms from Arkansas to Washington.
And the calluses just keep growing thicker and harder.
The best times were when I was able to perform a duet with my lovely wife, Laura, who has a tremendous voice and a supernatural ability to find the harmony and keep it tight, even on a brand new, just written song. We’ve also had great times singing with the kids, who are all great vocalists.
Truth be known, calluses aren’t the only reminders one has to show after 50-something years of playing music. They are only physical signs. The real wealth are the experiences and memories and knowledge and friendships accumulated through the years.
Music does that. It brings us together, gives us joy, let’s us cry when we need to, brings new friends into our lives, and draws us closer to old friends and loved ones.
And those are the best kind of calluses.