Today we have a guest blogger:
[My First Guitar is based on interviews by the US guitarist and music journalist Julia Crowe, and features guitarists talking about their careers and instruments; from classical and flamenco guitarists through to rock legends like Carlos Santana and Jimmy Page. This extract is from the chapter on English guitarist Martin Taylor.]
[Martin Taylor speaking:] I used to look at this guitar on the cover of a Val Doonican album that my parents had bought for me, a beautiful Clifford Essex guitar, made in England. Because I had this terrible first guitar that made my fingers bleed, I used to ask my mum and dad, "Why can't I have a guitar like that?" They said, "Well, we cannot afford a guitar like that."
When Christmas arrived, and my mum said, "We've got a present for you," I thought it would be this guitar. But she had knit me a sweater exactly like the one Val was wearing on the album cover.
I came to know Val many years later and, when I told him this story, he did not know whether to laugh or cry. A couple weeks later I was playing a concert and his daughter came backstage and told me, 'My dad couldn't come this evening because he's got a cold, but he sent this in his place.' And she gave me the guitar that was on that album cover.One can only guess whether this lovely guitar, with its stylish lines but discreet colour scheme, was chosen for all those covers so as not to distract the eye from the legendary sweaters and cardigans. But for anyone who loves guitars it's a real beauty. Clifford Essex guitars were popular with professional musicians in the middle of the last century, and the brilliantly-named Vic Flick used one to perform possibly the best-known guitar riff in history: the iconic twangy James Bond theme.
Val Doonican is an Irish country and folk singer who was a fixture on Saturday night TV in the UK in the 60s and 70s. As Martin Taylor puts it, "His television show gave the impression of extending an invitation into his comfy house." Famous for his striking knitwear (and for singing from a rocking chair), he has not featured before in Clothes In Books. Only time will tell if he will again. Incidentally, UK readers may well think he looks remarkably like Richard Osman, from the TV quiz show Pointless, on the "Walk Tall" sleeve.
My First Guitar is a heartwarming book full of funny, sad, touching and inspiring true stories that would appeal to anyone who has an interest in human beings, let alone music. And for anyone interested in guitars: it's heaven.
The album Martin Taylor actually stared at as a child was this one, with a less spectacular sweater, much easier for a mother to knit...
Today's guest blogger made a previous appearance on Clothes in Books a year ago.