Good news before nonsense,
I say, but nonsense too. Bumperstickers will be issued.
The good news is this: on Sunday, via internet and telephone, I bought a 1988 Guild four string flat-top acoustic bass, exactly like the one pictured here, except mine is Serial #130 and the one shown at the link is a 1995 model and Serial #145. But they are bass-ically the same.
My 1988 Guild acoustic bass Serial #130 is presently located in Alexandria, Virginia, and will be relocated to Fairwater, Wisconsin, during spring break. I will meet its present curator in Alexandria on March 17, load Ol' Number 130 into the passenger seat so she can ride shot-gun, and bring her on home as fast as my little Saturn can carry me.
Can you say: Tom is ecstatic!
Now, you may know that I write lyrics for, and play bass with, Dean Schechinger and Doc Abbick in a group we call Trinity. We have recorded one album, Fairy Tales & Nonsense, and we are up to our elbows in a second one, all original "train songs."
From time to time in the course of developing our songs, Doc and Dean and I exchange bits of curious information beyond verse and chorus and melodies for particular tunes. At one point, recently, another song at hand, Doc exclaimed: "Alright! A song that rhymes."
"I didn't know you were so keen on rhyme," I responded. "I'll keep that in the mind in the future."
Further along in the discussion, Doc opined: "It might be truly impossible to use rhyme in some situations, but I think a writer should at least try." And he thinks rhymes help make songs easier to remember.
I responded: "Within the poem/lyric itself, rhyme functions (1) to help unify the poem; and (2) to underline the meaning. The poem/lyric itself doesn't care whether it is easier to remember. Outside the poem/lyric, rhyme has traditionally been used to help remember, yes; yet we no longer live in an oral society, so we don't have to put our stories in rhyme in order to remember them. I have seen so many terribly bad poems that rhyme that I am automatically prejudiced AGAINST a poem that rhymes. Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes (LOLITS), you might say, have ruined the usefulness of rhyme for me. Instead of rhyme, I would generally prefer almost any other device to make the poem musical."
"On the other hand," I continued, "rhyme also can function as camoflauge, that is, for some people it can help make a lyric seem like 'a real song.' For me these days this is really the best argument for using rhyme."
"Personally," I added, "if there is to be rhyme, (as you may have noticed) I much prefer slant-rhymes or half-rhymes to real rhymes (think Emily Dickinson). I tend to agree that if you establish a certain rhyming pattern, you should follow it all the way to the end. I'm not averse to true rhymes in the occasional lyric, now that I know you like them, provided they don't get sing-songy and they do indeed help unify the lyric. A song like 'Three Little Pigs' doesn't really 'need' rhymes to keep it unified, because the structure of every verse is so parallel to the structure of every other verse. Well, you should never get me started in the first place. Sorry. The point being, we'll occasionally give it a good try."
And, at some other point recently, I had the opportunity to ask Doc this question: "What have you got when you've got 200 banjos at the bottom of the ocean?" It's an old joke, but Doc didn't know the punch-line and he wanted to. "My joke about 200 banjos at the bottom of the ocean is an adaptation of the lawyer joke," I wrote back. "What have you got when you've got 200 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start."
Of course, once you start in on the banjo, you can't stop. So at some point I added: "Banjo is one of the four instruments that aren't allowed into heaven. I told you that, right? The others are bagpipe, trombone, and accordion. That's why it's heaven. None of those instruments are there. If there were bagpipes, trombones, accordions, and banjos, it'd be hell."
In my snarky opinion, of all instruments, with those four it is the most difficult to tell the difference between someone playing badly and someone playing well.
Well, Doc took exception to my snarky opinion, as he is sometimes wont to, and he sent along a little piece of prose which really does seem to be the last word on the matter. What can I say, except that I'd like to share it here:
At the Pearly Gates
by Doc Abbick
As I approach the pearly gates, I will sing some of the old Latin tunes we learned in high school. "In paradisum deducant me (changed to first person from second person - more immediate) angeli..."
In his gruff, authoritative, commanding voice, Pete will say, "Was that you doin' all that singin' boy?"
Then, as meekly as a child, I will reply, "Yes, sir, your holiness."
"Well, just go on in through that big white gate there and ask somebody where the Seraphim's practice hall is. They been needin' some baritones."
"Can that big guy with the bushy beard come in too, sir?"
"Tom, sir. See him way down there?"
"That tall fella down on the bottom cloud there what just stepped in line?"
"The one with the big bass geetar strapped to his back like Johnny Cash?"
"Yes, sir. That's Tom."
"Hmmmm. Now hold on just a minute boy! Ain't he one uh them so-called poets what wrote so-called poetry what don't rhyme?"
"Well, sometimes it rhymes, sort of half way, or in a slanted way, sir."
"Well, now, I don't know about that."
"But, your holiness, he honestly thought it was poetry, as long as he used some other devices."
"Devices! Hah! Yeah, I heard that excuse a million times..."
"But, Saint Peter, sir, your holiness, he's my bass player."
"Oh, he is, is he?"
"Yes, sir, your holiness. He practiced every day, and we've been workin' together for years."
"Oh, you have, have you?"
"Yes, sir. And we were in the seminary together."
"Seminary, you say!? "
"Yes, sir, in Sioux City. And he can recite the Greek alphabet."
"Greek, huh? Yeah... Well... Seminary.... Uhhh huh.... Yeah.... Greek is good, I s'pose.... It uh been nice if he had an accordion or a banjo too, but....Well.... Well.... Oh I guess it uh be arright, him bein' yer bass player 'n all. Just get on in there like I told you now, boy. I'll send an angel down there directly to fetch him on up here and show him how to find you.... Hey, boy, I wanna hear some more uh that singin.... Next!...."