RIP Charlie Daniels

‘Life’ wrote a friend of mine, ‘is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.’

E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips

…the violin — that most human of all instruments…

Louisa May Alcott, Jo’s Boys

The siblings’ father stood in the doorway of the library and said something they never forgot. “Children,” he said, “There is no worse sound in the world than somebody who cannot play the violin who insists on doing so anyway.”

Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy

The devil bowed his head
Because he knew that he’d been beat
And he laid that golden fiddle
On the ground at Johnny’s feet

Johnny said, “Devil, just come on back
If you ever want to try again
I done told you once you son of a bitch
I’m the best that’s ever been”

Songwriters: Charles Fred Hayward / Charlie Daniels / Fred Edwards / James W. Marshall / John Crain / William J. Digregorio

I will always remember the year I turned 23 years old as the year that I took my comps for my Master’s degree and my federal and state securities license, insurance, and commodities futures trading licenses essentially all at once. I spent that entire year with my nose in a book, and only took breaks to walk our beloved Siberian husky along the river. I was absolutely terrified when I sat for my federal securities (Series 7) test and I should not have been. It was cake.

It pissed me off when they made me take a mandatory lunch break halfway through the test, because I was pounding through the questions in beast mode. I did not bring a lunch (I was taking a major test, but perhaps I needed a spot of tea?) and the only restaurant in the strip mall where my testing center was happened to be a salad place. I was not about to eat a bunch of vegetables in the middle of taking a test. So I walked over to a music store and strolled around looking at instruments. I walked out with a violin. I had never played the violin before, but it seemed like a good idea at the time and I was a working adult, so I could buy whatever the hell I wanted. I put the violin in my car and went back to finish my test. Is this options contract in-the-money or out-of-the-money, yay. My mind was already on learning the violin.

It turned out that working for one of the world’s most prestigious investment banks does not leave you a lot of time to learn the violin. But I did make it through a few lessons with a local pastor, and my main takeaway is that the violin is a bitch. I have mad respect for anyone who is master of the fiddle.

Back then and for many years after, I was also a distance runner. Every running playlist I made, from the years of the iPod since, had “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” on it. No matter how down I was feeling, that violin solo cut my splits by entire minutes. I can’t tell you how many miles I put on these old bones listening to that song.

Thanks for the art and for standing up for veterans, sir.

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