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  • I worked hard to learn this song.

    Being a self taught guitarist, the stretches weren't easy and my fingers wouldn't always cooperate with my desires. But I soon learned the song on my guitar. Soon being a relative term, I guess. It took me about three months.

    I was in a local bar band at the time, playing mostly country covers for the folks who came out to line dance on Friday and Saturday nights. Each time the band took a break, I would bring out a stool and sit in front of a mic with an acoustic guitar to play a solo piece.

    I remember the first time I played Blackbird. A few of the younger people looked up when I started and quickly went back to those conversations people usually have in bars, the ones where they are complaining about their day or trying to impress the opposite sex. But there was a couple close to my age near the edge of the stage who quietly listened while I concentrated intensely on the performance. When it was over, I placed my guitar in its stand, slipped off the stool, and headed to the table with the rest of the band to have a drink and relax for the next set.

    The man and his wife waved me over to their table.

    "Thank you for playing that song. It means a lot to us."

    "I'm glad you enjoyed it, I've always liked that song, took me a while to learn it."

    The man looked at his wife for a moment, she nodded, and looked up at me.

    "You see, that song was the one that gave us hope when we found out our daughter had Leukemia. Its about seeing past the things that happen in your life and moving on." She paused.

    The husband looked at her with a soft smile, and added, "She fought for another five years before she moved on. We always thought she was the blackbird in the song, that she was going to heal and be all right. We even chatted and joked about it with her, and she would smile and laugh, even when the chemotherapy was making her ill." It was his turn to pause.

    "The night she passed away, we were there with her in the hospital. She knew....we knew....and there was nothing more anyone could do but wait. As we were waiting, she looked at us from her bed and whispered, 'Remember....Blackbird.' A short time later, she died."

    "That was almost fifteen years ago," the wife added. "but we still remember."

    We chatted about music and other things for a moment, I thanked them again and saw out of the corner of my eye the band was getting ready to get back on stage, so I excused myself and joined them. Somewhere between the beginning and end of the set, the couple left.

    Every time I play that song, I think about them. The daughter was right, they were the blackbird.

    ~Fred~
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