Doc Watson, one of the great legends of American music, passed away yesterday. Doc was a country man- simple and humble. Yet in my opinion, he was the best flatpickker to ever fall upon my ears. You see, what Doc has that so few others possess in their playing is wisdom. Sure, he knows what notes to put in, but many flashy virtuoso players know that. What is special about Doc is that he knows what notes to leave out. He is from a generation of great bluegrass pickers, who I believe got the name ‘pickers’ not only because they used a pick to play, but also because they ‘picked’ the best notes to play. That is a rare wisdom in music.
I had one of those days today… You know, when life smacks you in the face and you wonder if you’re making any decisions right. I rarely give up fighting for things that matter. All the necessary notes are played in my life. However, sometimes I fight too long to keep notes in my life’s song that really are superfluous. I think I live a virtuoso lifestyle. Playing every note because I can, and since I can, I feel I should. But, these extra notes are just distractions from the simple, clear melody. I know that playing all those notes doesn’t sound as pure and Doc’s pickin.
I’m not exactly sure how I’m supposed to purify the song of my life. I know I should be kind and thoughtful, work hard and love my family as vastly as the universe, but I don’t yet have the wisdom to know when to let things go. (To be clear, I am not letting go of fighting for my daddy; he is family, and those are notes I will play.) Perhaps, I just need 89 years to figure it out. Until then, I will strive to live as Doc played with all of the right notes and none of the excess flash. Thank you Doc for the lifetime of music wisdom. You will be in my heart forever.