Today would have been my father’s 87th birthday. I always think of him when I hear Melanie.
I visited my father in New York in 1971, when I was 20 (I posted a picture he took of me during that summer in his apartment on my FB page.) His wife said my father wanted to give me a gift and asked me what I wanted. Without hesitation I said, “a guitar.” I had no idea how to play one, but I was with my father for the whole summer and decided I would learn. So his wife, Barbara, took me to the music district and a guy sold me a steel string guitar which we had to return a few days later because it was too difficult for me to play. With my new nylon string guitar, I sat in my father’s living room, where he also painted, and in the boiling heat of summer, no air condition, the roar of traffic from Broadway belting through the open windows, I painstakingly learned how to play songs by Melanie Safka and Neil Young. I’m sure it was more painful to Barbara and my father, though they never complained. Then I went and ruined it all by taking classical lessons and that was the end of my adventures with folk music; and, about five years later, the end of my love affair with the guitar. I think I may have to get my guitar out of storage, not the one my father gave me, I don’t remember what happened to that one; though I always think of it with affection, and gratitude.