Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Hand on the Guitar

During my mother's recent visit, I had the chance to look through family photos, something that is more entertaining every year. One photo in particular struck me. It showed my father and I sitting next to each other. I am smiling and looking at him (around 8 years old) and he is looking away while he plays his favorite Martin guitar.

The photo reminded me of a game we would often play (at least I thought of it as a game at the time).  My father absolutely loved to play the guitar, particularly in the evenings and on the weekend. I would often run and sit next to him and watch him play. I would wait patiently for a brief pause where I could grab his attention and tell him my news, or show him my latest discovery, or ask him if he wanted to go outside.

Many times, though, minutes would go by without the slightest interruption. That's when I would put my hand on top of the strings, while he was playing, and attempt to prevent him from playing. He would laugh and enjoy the challenge of trying to play through the distraction, and I would laugh because it seemed like we were having fun together. But then my hand would get tired, I would let go, and, somewhat relieved, he would continue playing. I would often get up after a few more minutes and find another way to fill my time.

Now, my father had many amazing qualities and great moments, but I look back on that now and see how obviously I was attempting to say, "Can you stop, just for a few minutes, put down your guitar, and give me your undivided attention?"

And then I think about my 9-year old son.

And this wonderful Apple laptop.

And the number of times I've said, "Just a few more minutes."

And the number of times he's said, "It's been 20 minutes. You said it would be 10."

I think about the number of times I've listened while my eyes finished scanning the screen.

He deserves better.

It looks like I have my own guitar, and no more excuses.