I can't now recall for sure if that model was salmon pink or red, but I know it represented something even more impossible to dream about than magic spells - it represented "professional" musician status. I mean Hank Marvin played one for Chris' sakes and yet impossibly, here was one in our little neighborhood - right there at the bus stop, by the pavement, behind the sheet of glass. Ooh!
A year or so later, 1963 is held in my memory, as the beginning of the end of a certain innocence, cusped as it was between the Shadows finest hour and the arrival of their relative demise, in the shape of the Beatles (Love Me Do) and then, oh man, local stars, the Animals (We've Got to Get out of This Place), the Stones et al, I was eleven. My brother Mark that year obtained his Hofner Super Solid for an equally impossible and awesome price, of £45 and his friend would play it, only months later, for the highlight at the local pantomime, a cover of Dave Clark's Glad All Over. Since no amplification was available, Mark was playing an acoustic and his pal was doing a splendid mime with the Hofner - something that completely passed me by out there in the audience where I was slamming chairs in time - and singing along "And I'm feeling, bash bash, glad all over, yes I'm , crish crash, glad all over" ...and I was.
The illicit frisson of excitement I got opening up that long shallow case, click, click, click and playing that Hofner when my brother was out, still returns to me now, when I open up the case to my very own steel Beltona, or even when I lift the lid of my black piano. It's a sense of both anticipation and awe and I don't know how I've managed to retain that innocence and reverence for the craft of a fine instrument in the face of the commercial onslaught that was to become my subsequent musical life, but whatever that sacred, secret thing is that has remained unsullied and untouched by time and money, I'm completely grateful for it.
David Knopfler is a guitarist, singer and songwriter whose latest album is "small mercies," a fine collection of detailed, touchingly human songs.
He has seven solo CDs for sale on his web site, www.knopfler.com, including "The Giver" and "Cut The Wire."
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