I am dreading going to Yom Kippur services today. Here it is…the day I’m supposed to be talking to G-d and asking for forgiveness for all of the sins I have committed this year, and I just wish I could blow the whole thing off. This attitude could get me in serious trouble with the big guy (or gal), but I am dreading the eeriness that I will feel today and the fact that there will be something big missing from the music I will be songleading. My friend, Steve, won’t be there with me to make my limited guitar playing skills sound good.
This week, the Tucson music community (and especially Jewish music community) lost one of our bests. Steve was so accomplished, so inspirational and kind. He was like a guitar playing fairy G-dfather who would look down his nose at me and shake his head at my too old unraveling strings and less than perfectly tuned instrument. He hated my Seagall guitar knowing that someone who plays as much as I do needed something finer despite the fact that the young children I often played for needed to touch, pluck and put their sticky fingers all over it. He encouraged me to play my better Taylor guitar no matter what.
Though my husband knew Steve so much better than I did ( they were in the Jewish “Avanim” rock band together), if you are a Jewish musician in Tucson, you have “Steve” stories. Good ones. So here are a few of mine.
One time, when I was having trouble tuning my guitar, and he reached into his case and handed me his tuner. “Keep it,” he said when I tried to give it back. It is still the tuner I use to this day…though the battery needs to be replaced.
Another time, we were leading a children’s service together, and I walked away for a moment during a musical break. When I returned, there was a new pack of guitar strings sitting on my music stand. It was a very unsubtle hint to change my strings all done with love and a wink and a smile. That was Steve……always needing music to sound its very best and always trying to teach.
Even the music stand that I regularly use to this day and use when teaching music classes to hundreds of students around town is one that I bought because of him. I admired its shoulder bag and how portable it was. He told me where to buy it, and I felt so super cool that Steve and I were seemingly the only ones to have this perfect stand for travel.
He will not be there with me today by my side to lead this music on this most holiest of Jewish holidays, but fortunately one of his students will be….a student that seems to be carrying on his footsteps. Afterall, that lucky student did learn from one of the greats.
I will miss him greatly especially when we sing the traditional “Avinu Malkeinu,” which Steve always enjoyed adding some Flamenco guitar to as we played our own special version. The room will feel empty without him, and though I am dreading going to this service today, I also can’t imagine any other place that I’d rather be.
My guitar will be weeping for him today, and somehow, I’ll have to push the tears in my eyes aside, as Steve wouldn’t want it any other way.
So, my song of the day today is “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” by the Beatles, and you should all click HERE to hear a song that seems like it was written just for this moment. It is a perfectly crafted tune, and I know Steve would approve of its choice.
Wish me luck as I play for him today. He will be there in spirit. I am certain of it.