First Prelude

I recently picked up my guitar again after a long time away. This has happened to me before – it’s a long-standing pattern for me. Usually I’ll pick up the guitar in response to some emotional crisis in my life. I’ll start playing intensely, go for lessons again, really work at it. Then the crisis will subside, or I just won’t seem to need to go to that place anymore, and eventually – it might take two years or five years – the guitar will recede from my life. Until the next time.

But this time the pattern is different. Nothing is wrong – I’m just drawn to the guitar, and I find myself playing at odd moments of the day or night, enjoying the sound of it, the feel of my fingers over the fretboard.

But one thing remains the same. As always, my way back in is the “First Prelude” by Heitor Villa Lobos. It was the first “classical” piece I ever learned, and it’s the one piece I never forget. My fingers just seem to find it automatically whenever I pick up a classical guitar, no matter how many years I’ve been away.

There is no other pleasure on earth quite like playing a piece that has seeped into your soul on some deep level, the one you can simply escape into, the one that has gotten you over your crises in times past. You know you can just show up at its door like an old friend in the middle of the night, and you know it will let you in, will put on a pot of tea, and stay up talking with you until you’re ok again. For me, the “First Prelude” is that friend.

Señor Villa Lobos, wherever your spirit may be in the universe, thank you.

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