Today I pulled the Yamaha from its case for its quarterly visit, tuned it up and played a little John Prine to clear my head. I threw in a little Neil Young, too, and a little Little Feat, and some of The Band. I started fooling around with a little Nickel Creek and Lucinda Williams for good measure, and then I couldn’t feel the ends of my left fingertips any more and it was time to put the thing back away.
I never will be a guitarist. My skills basically plateaued in, oh, 1988 or so, and I still can’t fingerpick the fretboard or form reliable bar chords. Still, the guitar has its own pleasures — for example, you really can’t play a song on a harmonica as much as play along to a song — and it provides a certain mental distraction that I just don’t get from playing harp. Sometimes (like, say, in a rare quiet moment after the last few weeks I’ve had), that is a very, very useful quality.