A FIELD FULL OF HEDGEHOGS
I'd been thinking about Robert Johnson and all those old dead and gone Mississippi blues guys. When I hear them on crackly recordings I realize I'm not listening so much to the song but to the atmosphere and the performance. Be it good or bad, it is still magical and a thing of haunting beauty. It is a few minutes of time plucked from the wilds of history like a flower is picked and pressed between the pages of a book.
I don't reckon those blues guys were exactly rich. I doubt they were playing top of the range guitars. Most likely some old beaten up borrowed hand me down with barbed wire strings. I figured I could just about afford a guitar like that.
So off I went on safari through Holly Street's junk stores. Down in a dry air basement stacked with odd shoes separated at birth and anonymous dramatic landscape paintings and wardrobes full of painful fashions best forgotten about, I found what I was looking for. A little guitar hardly two feet long, no strings, a broken bridge and no saddle nut. It needed a capo on the fifth fret just to make it be sort of in tune. It was perfect. Twenty dollars.
I hear about top musicians spending thousands of dollars on expensive guitars and equipment trying to capture that authentic delta blues sound. Me, I can't afford that kind of stuff. I can't play delta blues either. But I've got a little twenty dollar guitar that can and I got a few dollars left for a beer.
Years ago I was hitching out of Nürnberg with a different guitar. It was Winter or close to it. I can't remember where I was heading. It was a busy road that went on and on. I seem to remember it was about 10 pm. There were a lot of headlights and traffic lights. There was a heavy drizzle in the air and the road was wet. I'd been walking for hours and I still wasn't out of town. I was getting closer to the city limits though. All around was parkland and forest. When I could walk no more I went into the parkland and settled down to sleep in the shadow of a young tree not far from the road. I don't know how long I slept but when I awoke it was still dark. The road was a little quieter. The park was covered in hedgehogs. Hundreds of them. I'd never seen so many all in one place. A whole herd. I was surrounded by them. It was kind of eerie. Unnerving even. Are hedgehogs predatory? Delicately they curled into timid little spiky landmines as I passed through their midst on my way back to the roadside. I trod carefully, not wishing to start a stampede. Nor did I want to get a blowout in one of my boots.