That’s the old man with his trusty guitar in July 1966, possibly on his 45th birthday. That’s me in the foreground, age 4.
My father passed away nineteen years ago today. When I was a little kid, he played that guitar all the time. He was particularly fond of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, old-timey folk singers of his generation. He also like bluegrass (along with jazz and classical; the man was nothing if not eclectic). For many years, his favorite record was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 compilation of traditional music, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, featuring legends like Doc Watson and Vassar Clemens.
My dad eventually gave that guitar to my brother Tom, thus launching a rock ’n roll career that may or may not have been to the old man’s liking. They’re both gone now, but the music lives on.
Here’s Pete Seeger (who, coincidentally, turned 94 yesterday) on Johnny Cash’s TV show singing one of the old man’s favorites:
He used to play this song all the time. We so identified the song with my father that one of my nieces – who was all of thirteen-going-on-fourteen at the time – sang it at his funeral.
It takes a worried man to sing a worried song.
You’re goddamn right it does.