Tail of the Weak is a series of insights and musical memories from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin, singer/songwriter and founder of the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival, from Waycross, Georgia.
Like most folks, I like to like and love to love. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Besides, it's the best possible way to go through this world, from start to finish.
Every famously-named humanitarian—Jesus, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr.—has espoused the virtues of kindness to fellow man. It is a basic tenet of most religions; and, for a while, in the Sixties, was the hallmark of the hippie movement.
During my days in the Down Home Band with Eddie Middleton, we used to play a good bit in Macon, Georgia at a big nightclub called Uncle Sam's. Macon, home of Capricorn Records and the Allman Brothers Band, was and still is a soulful city for food and music.
I recall the words of Capricorn Records co-founder, Phil Walden—“If you do good, good gonna come to you”. It's a simple philosophy that we desperately need more of. Especially now.
It was in 1977 that I found myself in the market for a good, acoustic guitar. The Down Home Band played six nights a week at the King of the Road Motor Inn in Valdosta, Georgia.
After the bar closed down, we would ride over I-75 to Howard Johnson's all-night restaurant for the Daily Double—two slaw dogs in toasted buns with french fries—served up by an Oriental waitress with kind eyes.
Because we were quite regular late night, early morning customers, we got to know her pretty well. One evening, we were talking about transcendental meditation. Me and some of the guys in the band were ready to dip our toe in the Far Eastern technique; but, realized that in order to do it right, one must have a mantra, which is officially bestowed once you sign up for a class.
Well, all that costs money—and so do guitars and guitar strings, etc, etc.—so, I was quite comfortable just sitting cross-legged on my motel room bed with my eyes closed going, “Ommmmm”.
It was then, my little Vietnamese waitress friend from Ho-Jo's whipped out, from her apron, a business card with the words printed, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō. Pronouncing it for me, she then told me to chant this as my mantra.
She continued, explaining that this was the central mantra chanted within all forms of Nichiren Buddhism. Followers of this religion consider it to be the ultimate law of the universe; and, that we as humans can manifest our realizations when we become one with the same.
Say, what? Okay, uhhh—thank you for my cool, new mantra—and I'll let you know how it goes.
A couple days rolled by; and, as I was sitting and chanting in my third floor bedroom of the King of the Road, the phone rang. The front desk clerk said that there was a gentleman there to see me. I threw on some non-transcendental jeans and rode the elevator down to meet him.
He was a serviceman from nearby Moody Air Force Base; and, he was toting an acoustic guitar case. He said, “I heard around town that you were looking to buy a guitar”.
I pulled a beautiful, used Takamine box guitar out of his case, strummed a couple of chords, heard the angels sing, and said, “I'll take it”!
I cherished that guitar for over 25 years. It was with me through good times and bad; and, I wrote a ton of songs with it cradled in my arms.
Not lost on me, in the least, was the manifestation of the realization that I had become one with the ultimate law of the universe—and the slaw dogs weren't bad either!
7th Annual Swamptown Getdown Music and Arts Festival
March 17-18, 2017
Waycross, Georgia Advance Weekend Passes: https://events.ticketprinting.com/event/21700
Memories straight from the mind of Uncle Dave Griffin