Author’s note: This column is a continuation of my previous column, “The Dance.” All past columns can be accessed by clicking on the link to my archive. That’s what an archive does. It preserves nearly all of my sarcasm for future generations.
That Takamine guitar just sat in the corner of my closet for three years. The bag of Lee Oscar harmonicas sat right next to it collecting dust. Then, one day during the late summer of 1996, I got a phone call from my old friend Harry Wilson. He wanted me to fly out to Columbus, Mississippi – my place of birth – to play in his wedding. The song choice was a no-brainer. It was Harry’s favorite Beatles tune In My Life. It was the one he wanted me to play - and wanted Shannon Ruscoe to sing - at his funeral. Harry always thought we would outlive him. In college, we made sure we practiced playing In My Life at least once a week. We never knew when Harry might go.
I flew out to Nashville and played the song a couple of times with Shannon before we hopped in his truck and headed down the Natchez Trace towards Columbus. The pastor ended up banning our Beatles cover from the service. I guess he was still mad at John Lennon for saying the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. So we just played something else instead. It was a good time. It was good to be at home with old friends.
It would be three more years before the phone rang with another wedding song request. Chris was getting married in Wilmington. I was living in Chapel Hill. He wanted one of our mutual friends to sing at his wedding. The song, The Power of Two, by the Indigo Girls, was a little more than the singer could handle on his own. He played guitar but did not have that much confidence. So I played as he sang for Chris and his bride. I always loved playing at weddings because the people were always so happy and even the drunks were on their best behavior.
Four years later, I was asked to play at the rehearsal dinner of my own wedding. It was one thing to re-learn an old song for a wedding. But playing for a couple of hours seemed like such a greater challenge. Shannon flew out from Nashville to spend the whole week before the wedding so we could practice all the old songs. That’s the beauty of living at the beach. People always want to visit and they will stay as long as you let them. The ocean breeds flexibility.