Phil Alvin and John Hiatt: Guitar Mavens

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Years ago, John Hiatt recorded a song mocking the faux theatrics of those who destroyed their guitars on stage. What was once a gesture meant to italicize the collapse of high culture’s dominance (though far from complete control) of ideology had become a perfunctory gesture that bordered on self-indulgence. If you haven’t heard the song, “Perfectly Good Guitar” is waiting for your browser’s attention.

One person who never succumbed to the popular carnival act of disassembling a guitar on stage is the poet-songwriter-musical, Dave Alvin. Recently, his treasured guitar was stolen from his van when it was parked near where he was scheduled to perform. It’s a pleasure to report that Dave’s guitar was returned to him.

Miracle on Junipero: Blasters’ Phil Alvin’s stolen guitar is rescued

For those who wish to read some of Dave’s poetry, I recommend going to your nearest library that has a copy of POETRY LOVES POETRY, my 1985 anthology that also contained work by Exene Cervenka, John Doe, Wanda Coleman, Jim Krusoe, Laurel Ann Bogen, Ron Koertge, Suzanne Lummis, and Gerald Rocklin. Rocklin was one of Alvin’s teachers at CSU Long Beach, back when he was just starting out as a poet and musician. Alvin paid homage to Rocklin at his CSU Long Beach retirement party by attending the dinner and getting up and reading some of his work at the culminating tribute.

I have attended several shows over the years by Dave Alvin. I remember in particular one performance at the Belly Up Tavern, during which Alvin performed “Shenandoah,” dedicating it to a friend who had recently died, and “who had made it over the river.” His rendition of the song would suit me just fine when the time comes for me to be remembered.