Friday, November 26, 2010

"Tennessee Flat-Top Box"


I often wake up in the mornings with a song firmly planted in my mind. The song is already playing as I come to consciousness. No matter the tune, I wonder why I'm thinking of that particular song and try to relate it to something going on in my life.

This morning the song was Johnny Cash's Tennessee Flat-Top Box. (Picture is of a Gibson Tennessee Flat-Top Guitar.) The song tells the story of a boy and his guitar playing in a cabaret in a South Texas Border town. All the girls from there to Austin were slipping away to hear the little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat top box.


At Thanksgiving dinner yesterday we were talking about what the kids wanted for Xmas. Deise mentioned she wanted a guitar; either a Gibson or Fender. I didn't ask whether she was talking acoustic or electric like this Fender pictured. Because either way, I knew it wasn't something this grandma would be giving her. The conversation swirled away before I got to ask why she wanted a guitar. But that could be the reason for my dream song.

The song goes on to tell how the boy couldn't ride or wrangle and never cared to make a dime. But given his guitar, he was happy all the time. Then one day he was gone. No one ever saw him around. He'd vanished like the breeze, they forgot him in that little town. And then one day on the Hit Parade, was a little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat-top box.

So the song is also about achieving dreams and goals - which was another topic yesterday as some of the grand kids shared what they want to be/do in their futures. Perhaps that is the reason for my dream song of the morning?


There have been some guitars in our family. Mom had one that I vaguely remember from my childhood - though I don't remember her ever playing it.
My younger brother had a guitar while in high school. He and some of his friends even formed a group - "The Synthetic Majority". I don't know if he still plays, but Les played at a friend's wedding and also at church.
Bud has Lottie's "Gene Autry" guitar in the closet, waiting to be given to Mark someday per Mark's grandmother's wishes.

I never learned to play, but I had dreams of doing so after I bought this guitar for $15.00 at an antique/used store in Bedford. (Photo is from 1980.) I think I took two or three lessons before the instructor moved from Corning. I didn't try to find a new teacher; I could already tell that I would probably never learn how to play regardless of the number of lessons.

I did give this guitar to Deise. I also bought a guitar for Doug to give to Brock from both of us for xmas one year when we hadn't seen him for a long time and Brock was allowed to be part of our family again.

Regardless of the reason I awakened with this song in my head today, remembering it and writing about it has helped chase away an annoying xmas song heard in one of the stores an hour ago.

"And all the girls from nine to ninety were snapping fingers and tapping toes; begging him 'Don't stop.' The little dark-haired boy who played the Tennessee flat-top box."

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