Over the years, every now and then, a movie that I saw when I was maybe 5 or 6 flashed into my mind. All I could remember about it was that Michael Douglas was in it and he played the guitar. And I was enthralled by the guitar playing. I loved the sound of it – it was a nylon string and he was playing a semi-classical fingerpicking style.
Well, it turned out that I was in luck because my sister got a nylon string guitar to play at Mass on Sundays and by the time I was big enough to actually play it, it was still in one piece – barely. Having travelled through the hands of 8 children at various times, my father glued it back together and took it up himself. I started playing it too. It was easier to play than the piano in a crowded house because it wasn’t as loud and if I could find a quiet corner (hard to find in a three bedroom house with 10 people living there) I could just play it for hours. I played in weird tunings and made stuff up. Later I started playing from the Golden Treasury songbook and learnt all the chords.
Playing the guitar brought me great solace in my teenage years and helped me through great sadness and loneliness and suburban ennui. The sound of the nylon strings provided a dreamscape into another dimension. Music changes time, transforms sorrow, saved a young girl.
Every now and then I’ve tried to find this movie and now I have. It has really stood the test of time as so few movies do. Let your kids play music and please don’t send them off to other people’s wars.
(The movie is called SummerTree. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067804/ I never found out who was really playing the guitar.)