Witty Songs

ŠTed Schaar 2011

6.  "I'm Just A Guitar, Everybody Picks On Me."

Number 6, the primary inspiration for this article, was written and performed by Pete Drake in 1964 and appears on his Forever album.   It is the epitome of brevity and wit. 

Drake was a Music City session virtuoso who added smooth pedal steel to an array of C&W hits, including Tammy Wynette's "Stand by Your Man," Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors," and Kenny Rogers' "Lucille."  He also played on Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, and Self Portrait albums, all recorded in Nashville.18   Rock guitarists Peter Frampton and Joe Walsh had hits using Drake's "talking steel" guitar technique and evidently he got the idea himself from performer Alvino Rey who achieved a similar effect in the 30s when it was known as the "singing guitar."19

The version of the song I heard on Ed's bootleg was recorded when Drake was in England working on George Harrison's first post-Beatles album All Things Must Pass.

After I found the studio recording of the song included below online, I listened to it many times but couldn't quite make out the third line.  Google research didn't produce the lyrics, so I called a number listed at a Web site about Drake, reached a voice mailbox, and left a message that included my question about the lyric.

In addition, I contacted Bill Cunningham, who's on the board of the Georgia Steel Guitar Association,20  thinking he or another member would be familiar with Drake, who was born in Augusta, Georgia, in 1932.21   Cunningham posted a note to the Steel Guitar Forum22  and within a few hours a member had the answer. 

About a week later, the phone rang and the caller said with a beautiful Southern accent, "This is Rose Drake from Nashville, Tennessee."  Who else could it be? so I immediately said, "Hello, Mrs. Drake!"  She replied that she was calling to answer my question.  I explained I thought I already had the answer but would appreciate it if she could confirm it was correct which she soon did.  In my experience, people who legitimately have a claim to fame are among the kindest folks around.   (Visit YouTube [Drake] for the song.)

Lyrics

I'm just a guitar
Everybody picks on me
These blues they keep playing
Have got me full of misery


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