Bobby Smith’s ringtone was John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” and Bobby Smith worked with my dad at Martin-Marietta Texas Quarry when all the old guys like that were just starting to die. Like Bobby Smith’s uncle who was more like his dad, who died a few days before Christmas and left Bobby Smith all his stuff and his smoke-stained house. Bobby Smith’s uncle who was more like his dad played guitar but Bobby Smith didn’t, and so I ended up with an old sticky plastic-back Ovation from Bobby Smith’s dead uncle-dad’s smoke-stained house, because I knew some people who played a little guitar—or something like it.
And so I brought the guitar back to Pete’s third-floor walk-up in West Philly on New Year’s Eve and all his punk friends passed the guitar back and forth and someone played an AJJ song pretty badly and apologized too much before everyone migrated to the porch and Pete and I went up to the attic and found old tube computers instead. One tube computer had a sticker on it that said MORE TREES LESS BUSH. And then maybe a few weeks later Pete said he had been learning “Trouble” by Cat Stevens, which was my very favorite song because Harold and Maude was my very favorite movie, and I was so happy I thought maybe I’d die and maybe I’d like to because that would be a pretty good ending. But then before I could die he started playing “Clay Pigeons,” and I said that I loved that song, and Pete seemed surprised that I knew it. And I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want him to know that I only knew about the song because of Michael Cera.
Because Michael Cera covered “Clay Pigeons” on true that in 2014 which was when I was 17-years-old and loved with less shame. But now I was 22-years-old and very serious and my love came with shame and I was supposed to know about Blaze Foley and not about Michael Cera, and so I got busy dying and thinking about “Trouble.” And about how Bobby Smith’s dead uncle who was more like his dad was probably happy that someone was playing “Clay Pigeons” on his sticky plastic-back Ovation—no matter whose version it was.
Abigail Swoboda also plays a little bit of guitar or something like it, but only when they’ve had a few glasses of wine. You can find them in Philadelphia, PA, on their website abigailswoboda.com, on Twitter @orbigail, or on Instagram @honeymoonbeam.