Denis Lehane: Have yourselves a tuneful Christmas

There is nothing worse than listening to a lousy guitar player, particularly at Christmas time. For he is the fellow who can ruin any gathering of sweet sounding carol singers.

To my mind, the lousy guitar player should be strung up, preferably by his own strings, somewhere high on a large Christmas tree. And he should hang there as a warning to all that poor mastery of the guitar will not be tolerated. Hang him up by his G string, and good riddance.

Anyhow, tis well versed I am with regards to the lousy guitar player for I thought I was one myself, before I discovered that it was not me at all only my guitar that was at fault.

Yerra, I had been belting out some right lousy tunes for years without fail, damaging the ear drums of countless innocent bystanders in the process. And then early last January, due to unpopular demand, I finally gave up in disgust.

Never again I vowed would I go near the guitar. And nobody, it has to be said, cried a tear over the announcement. Indeed t’was great support I received from friends and family when my intention to retire from active guitar playing was revealed.

And retired I would have stayed too only for spotting this fellow on the television the other night and he playing a guitar like the devil himself. He was your man Knopfler who used to play with Dire Straits, and he was only brilliant. The guitar was like putty in his hands.

Anyhow on closer inspection of his style, I soon spotted the secret to his success. Sure wasn’t the guitar he was playing only magnificent. A mighty looking yoke. Yerra the kind of thing that would probably play itself. Twas like the fourwheel drive of the guitar world, it would go any place you wanted.

It was then I realised that the problem I had in the guitar department was all to do with the instrument and had nothing to do with the man. Well as sure as night follows day, the very next afternoon I found myself in a music shop, and for the price of a handy Friesian bull calf I purchased a new guitar like Knopfler’s. And flinging my old one into the fire that very evening, I set off on a bright new road of music and I haven’t looked back since.

Last Saturday night I was once more back with the carol singers of Kilmurry as the Christmas lights were switched on in the village. Back with my new guitar, back with a vengeance.

And while I’m noted for my reluctance at self-praise, twas clear to be seen, that I was the star of the show.

The Christmas lights might have shone brightly in Kilmurry on Saturday night, but I shone brighter still.

With my new guitar strapped to my belly there were no heights I couldn’t or wouldn’t scale.

Even after two strings gave way, I bravely battled on, playing better with the four remaining strings than I had with the full six. Giving it welly as we belted out all the hits like ‘Silent Night.’ I was unstoppable. Had all my strings snapped, I dare say I would have still played on.

And with more nights yet the come before the arrival of Christmas, I’m only biting at the bit.

I’m like a donkey after getting his hooves paired, I’m mad for the highway and the bright lights of another town.

For with my new guitar, I’m like a new man this Christmas.


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