Me strumming
flickr photo by D’Arcy Norman

It may look like I knew what I was doing with this guitar at the Northern Voice EduGlu Blues JamFest, but rest assured, you most likely dont want to ask for a recording (there was none)- but just holding a guitar, for me, is a sensual experience.

And a nostalgic one.

So I am thinking of a story.

A story of a blonde.

A blonde fender Telecaster.

I started taking guitar lessons at 15, with the non original day dreams of being a rock star. We did not have the toys that are here now. I started with a red, white, and blue acoustic for my first lessons. The first song my teacher showed me was “Day Tripper”. My parents said if I stuck with lessons 6 months, they would let me get a “real” guitar.

Incentives worked. I ended up with the Takamine acoustic I still own.

But this story is not about her.

I got tired of the regimen of lessons (especially as it veered into music theory- i just wanted to play songs from the radio) and quit. My friend Larry had a organ/keyboard synthesizer, and could pluck the notes/chords by listening; another guy Marc played drums. We talked Kevin into singing. Larry’s older brother had left a mondo Marshall bass amp in his house.

We schemed a band.

So with my snow shoveling / gas cutting money saved up, I looked in the newspaper for a used electric guitar.

And came across the blonde telecaster from some guy, with a Peavy Backstage small amp. I don’t have a digital photo, but it looked pretty much like:

Fender Telecaster
flickr photo by nickclement

Mine was maybe a 1973 vintage, not as much grain in the body. It was a heavy sucker, but it felt like a guitar god just to hold. Not that I could make it really sound great.

Actually (and this is added later) I scanned a photo from 1980- look at this 17 year old kid:

Me and theTele

So we did maybe one party in my basement. We trucked Larry’s electric organ and his brothers giant Marshall amp, and played loud music for hours.

Our tight knit group of friends went off to college. Kevin got an acoustic. I was not playing the Tele all that much, and thought we made an arrangement where he bought it off me for like $25 and I would buy it back some time in the future, and it would pass back and forth.

But that was not how it panned out.

We drifted apart, lost touch, I moved west, he got married, I got married, he had kids…

And he had the Tele! I was pissed off for some time, a lot for the loss of a friendship that I made akin t a brother.. and he had that beautiful guitar (never mind the obvious fact I did sell it). But time wore down that story and I was resigned to that being how it ends.

Ironically, Kevin and I ended up taking different paths into careers of education technology, me via Geology, he via engineering. About 3 years ago, I had an opportunity to do a workshop at the university he was at, and took a chance to reconnect.

I had dinner at his house and watched my old beer drinking buddy parent teen age kids.

And here is the good part of the story.

His son, now 15, plays guitar, and is damn good. And he plays that Telecaster in a real band, who plays in front of real audiences (somewhere there is a YouTube clip, looking…)

And that is where that Telecaster needs to be. In the hands of someone who can make it make beautiful rock and roll (not the noise I generate). In the hands of a young musician, not some old dreamer.

And even better, a few weeks ago Kevin and I met up for beers in Tempe (he was in town for a meeting), and I finally figured out we can have a better friendship now in our 40s than the nostalgia glory I had painted of being 16.

But you know what?

After holding that Ibanez at Brian’s house… I’m ready to consider getting an electric.

And maybe, maybe, maybe, it may even be… a lovely blonde Tele.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I’m suddenly thing of Bryan Adams…Summer of ’69.

    I got my first real six-string
    Bought it at the five-and-dime
    Played ’til my fingers bled
    It was summer of ’69

    Me and some guys from school
    Had a Band and we tried real hard
    Jimmy quit and Larry got married
    I shoulda known we’d never get far

    Oh when I lock back now
    That was seemes to last forever
    And if I had the choice
    Ya – I’d always wanna be there
    Those were the best days of my life

  2. I’ve enjoyed reading some of your more “off blog topic” posts recently … this post is especially interesting to me b/c I think I know the Kevin you are referring to in a very different way. Some of your more recent posts/photo storytelling has me realizing how important it is to use our spaces to also reflect on other areas of our lives. It is so cool to see you exploring new ground and taking a chance at being more transparent!

    Go buy that guitar! Oh, and if you want, I might be able to get the other one back — I know where Kevin lives ;-)

  3. The world needs old dreamers too, and old dreamers need electric guitars. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Good luck in the quest. Sure wish we could stroll into a music store together and spend a fine afternoon playing all the axes in the shop, bothering the manager, and dreaming of rock and roll.

  4. Hey Cole, I have no topics ;-) but yes I am feeling more like writing expressively than tech stuff, but the spammer rants shall never stop until they are eradicated.

    I’m with ya, Gardner and am holding on to that music dream. Let’s find a shop! Have a great trip to Vancouver, you will jam there for sure.

  5. Great post. I will be linking back to this for my music ed readers on my blog.

    If you want to hear some great tele playing, check out The Twangbangers: 26 days on the road by High Tone Records. The version of “Hot Rod Lincoln” is a Tele and Fender Twin Reverb combination that will blow our mind.

  6. You’re bringing tears to my eyes.
    I acquired a green, ’63 Fender Strat while playing at a private party in Birmingham, AL in 1975. I was able to keep it while going to college as long as I was working (full time) and playing gigs. I was finally finished with college, starting having children and got my first teaching job. Well, we had to eat and there were very few recipes for strats, so, I sold it (along with a 4-12, super reverb).
    I wished I had gone on a diet.

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