Soul Survivor: The Song & Story
I released a new song recently entitled "Soul Survivor." It is not just any song. It is the story of music, human connection, pain, and persistence. The song was inspired by a story about a beautiful guitar! Here’s the story behind the song as it was shared with me by the guitar’s owner, and my good friend, Dwane Haggy.
“Dad was 24 when he bought that guitar brand new in 1954. I’m not sure what it cost, but I’m sure it was a substantial amount of money! My sister was born that year and soon life got in the way, which meant no more playing “out” for dad, although he would pull the guitar out occasionally and play when friends would come over.
After I was born and got to be old enough to play, dad would show me chords and I would practice. I had an old cheap guitar that I would play with him when friends came over to our house. As I grew older, that old, cheap guitar was the same one I’d continue to play while just sitting around the house.
As a teen I’d look at the guitar my dad had and think, ‘That’s just dad’s guitar.’ I didn’t think of it as “TOP OF THE LINE” or anything - just dad’s guitar. As I got older, I bought a couple cheaper guitars to play around with. I didn’t play out, just liked playing for fun.
I got older and moved away from home. Dad played his guitar occasionally, but only when friends would come over. He didn’t play in public. Years later my mom passed away. Dad, in his loneliness picked up the old guitar and started playing again, about that same time he started going out and singing at karaoke bars.
One of his friends convinced him to bring his guitar and accompany himself instead of doing karaoke. At last, after 39 years…dad and his Gibson played a gig! He caught the bug, was quite good, and started playing out more and more.
In early February of 1994, on his way back from a gig in Gahanna, he lost control of his Cadillac, went off road and lost his life. His 1954 Gibson guitar was in the trunk in a cheap, “chip-board” case, but miraculously survived with just a little ding on the front of it (which is still there!).
The guitar came to me. I kept it for several years but only played it occasionally. In my mind, it was “just a guitar.” I had no idea that a 1954 Gibson was an amazing thing to have!
Fast forward a few years. Times were tough and Christmas was coming. I had taken the guitar to a repair place to get it repaired. I asked the guy who was repairing it if he’d like to buy it (so I would have money for Christmas). He bought the guitar from me and I figured that was the end of it, dad’s Gibson was gone.
My wife and older son found out what I had done! They went to the person who bought the guitar and bought it back, and had it refurbished.
That Christmas the family gifted me with my dad’s guitar – totally renewed! There wasn’t a dry eye in the place! Again, it wasn’t played often -just at family get togethers and stuff. A few years down the road, I started getting into playing music with a band. I used the guitar- amplifying it with a sound hole pickup. It felt good, it smelled good. It was Dad!
At one point I traded one of my old “cheaper” guitars for a guitar with a built in pick up. I never bought really nice guitars, I always chose guitars in the $200-$300 range.
One day a friend of mine who’s a musician said to me, “You know, you’re starting to play quite a bit, you should think about getting a better guitar to play.” I casually mentioned that I had a 1954 Gibson Southern Jumbo that doesn’t have a pickup. You could have knocked him over with a feather! It was only then that I realized what a treasure I had!
So, now, with its pickup installed, me and the Gibson (and dad) are performing! This wonderful instrument certainly has been a ‘Soul Survivor’ and a ‘Soul Reviver’!"