Rescue Mission

The last thing I remember, I was running the numbers as I dashed from some nondescript Midtown hotel. How many blocks to Penn Station?

February 28th. COVID-19 was beginning to wreck havoc on my global travel plans. The Big Apple was feeling increasingly over populated.

The quickest route straight away: Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect Your Things At The Apartment.

And so, nearly six months later, sublet terminated, it languished there: my near-vintage Martin DC15E.

This is bare bones Martin. Reference it’s catalogue description:

“Dispenses with elaborate cosmetics to bring you revered Martin sound at a more affordable price.”

Nothing fancy. Still, I’ve written every song since “Crash Site” (2001, people) on it. I’ve performed, I dunno, let’s say 1000 shows on it. This thing has been through the wars.

Once, a beloved, octogenarian luthier on 48th Street inspected the damage from a late night microphone run in and said, “Benny, Benny, Benny. What have you done!?!”

For six hours Saturday morning, I was on a 302 mile rescue mission to retrieve that guitar: Wilmington, DE, to Larchmont, NY.

I avoided the news. I skipped podcasts. I listened to nothing but music. And turned everything over and over and over in my head…

As I Instagrammed along the way (Hello, Woodrow Wilson Rest Stop!), I thought, “I should play a surprise Instagram Live show on the Martin tonight.”

The guitar was, as promised, resting safely in its case in an empty, unlocked garage on a quiet street. There was no fuss. I tucked the case into the trunk, pleased, relieved, and released its latches.

Same as it ever was.

Three hours later, I pulled into my driveway. Abbi and the girls were tending the vegetable garden. They were non-plussed by my return.

I whisked the guitar upstairs, and opened the case for closer inspection.

The strings were green with age, tacky to the touch. I spotted two cracks below the bridge, then remembered they’d been there. I tuned, and strummed a G.

Not pretty.

I ruled out the Instagram Live, and returned the guitar to its case.

I sometimes think of experience as content: a new song, a blog post, an Instagram Story.

I’d expected an outcome from this rescue mission: a live show, some viewers, a bump in Spotify streams. A new song, a new album. Content.

For months now, I’ve been leaving messages for the girls on a blackboard in the kitchen: “We Are Stardust,” “Let The Sun Shine In,” “You & Me In The Summertime.”

In a lull in Saturday afternoon’s action, I erased it, and considered what to say next.