Guitar preservation program a ‘win-win’

To: Jim Irsay

From: A fellow guitar enthusiast

Hi, Jim. Congratulations on signing that deal with Andrew Luck. It’s good to know he’s going to be the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback for a long time to come. It cost us a lot of money, $140 million, but I guess you figure it was worth it. Besides, it’s only money, right?

Also, I read that you recently bought Prince’s “Yellow Cloud” guitar. This purchase added another iconic guitar to your large collection of musical instruments. That’s great. It’s good to have a caretaker for musical instruments and memorabilia connected to an historical era that means so much to us Baby Boomers. This deal also cost us a lot of money, but, again, I guess you thought it was worth it.

I say that it cost “us” a lot of money because I figure with all the tax breaks and public funds that find their way into your coffers, at least part of what you buy and what you own belongs to all of us. Does that make sense?

Understand, I am not one of those people who want to take all the money from the rich, nor am I against people with talent and drive earning what the market offers. But, still, the people who pay taxes that ultimately go to keeping you in the lifestyle to which you have been accustomed should be able to claim as least a fraction of that lifestyle as their own. Doesn’t that seem fair?

Considering that, I have a thought. First, as a guitar aficionado you must know how important it is to actually play a high-quality axe on a regular basis. It’s not hippy-dippy, New Age to believe that finely-crafted instruments lovingly constructed by artisans who put their souls into their work do not have a sort of a soul of their own.

It’s not too far out to believe these soul-filled guitars need to express the music they were created to make. What I am offering is my meager skills in helping you play some of the guitars in your (our) collection. I would be happy to help your guitars stay happy by playing them.

I have read that the majority of the collection is made of acoustic instruments. I lean toward acoustics myself when I am just sitting around the house. I would be glad to spend some quality time with that 1942 Martin D-18 originally owned by Elvis Presley as well as that “ultra rare” 1939 Martin D-45.

But it is the electric guitars in the collection that generate the most media buzz. You spent close to a million dollars, $965,000, for the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan played at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival where he was famously booed for going electric. I would be happy to plug in and rock out with that baby. I would also be more than willing to play Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” since Slowhand ranks right below The Beatles in my personal Rock Star Pantheon.

Speaking of The Beatles, I understand you are a huge fan. Me too. I have read that the top three guitars on your wish list are all ones owned by John Lennon.

Considering they are family heirlooms and part of the Lennon estate, the chances of you buying them are as slim as a e-string. But let me assure you, if you do snag that Rickenbacker 325, I stand ready and able to play it for you. Maybe we could sit around the house and do some Beatles songs. I’ll come to your place, if you want.

Anyway, think about my suggestion. It would keep your (our) guitars in playing order, and it would be a good way to show your appreciation for what we taxpayers have done for you. It’s a win-win.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal.