Thomas Wictor

Goodbye is Forever

Goodbye is Forever

On page 267 of Ghosts and Ballyhoo, I describe how the Cardinal Ghost Carmen explained why the Arcadia song “Goodbye is Forever” choked me up. She said it was just a matter of the harmonies eliciting an emotional response. To her it was only a song.

Many women—including my mother—have told me that it’s much easier for women to leave men than it is for men to leave women. I can’t say one way or another, but I’ve read that women are more pragmatic than men.

If something isn’t working, the pragmatic thing is to stop it. If something isn’t what you wanted, the pragmatic thing is to get rid of it. I understand.

Still, “Goodbye is Forever” chokes me up, even if it’s simply because of the harmonies.

In many (most?) cases, goodbye is forever. I rediscovered that today. A while back I saw a photo of what I think must be a homemade bass guitar. It was on my Facebook news feed.

A one-string bass with a fretless aluminum neck. This is what it would sound like.

That Phaedrus Proton II bass is aluminum and fretless. The player—Thayer DeMay—is hitting the string a little too hard. I’d play it with less attack, which would eliminate the clicking and clacking. I’m not sure if you could slap on it.

Atlansia also makes a one-string bass.

The Solitaire is available in fretted or fretless models. It has a decent tone. I’m sure you could slap on it. I’d choose fretless because that would make it easier to play really high up on the neck if you have an E-string, which is what I’d want. No point in having a bass if I can’t get the low notes.

People also build one-string upright basses.

Trace Lawson’s invention is a mutation of the old washtub-bass idea from jug bands.

I thought I’d accepted in 2012 that I’d never play the bass again, due to osteoarthritis in both thumbs. Recently, however, I’ve really, really wanted to play again. It’s a longing, an ache. I want to soar again. So I thought maybe I could play a one string bass. To that end I removed three of the strings from my Squire.

I spent about fifteen minutes playing this afternoon, for the first time in five years. I slapped the string with my open hand, and I fingered the notes like this.

This was to put the minimum amount of stress on my joints.

I played about six hours ago. Now my thumbs, fingers, and wrists hurt so much that it’s hard to type, and I’m going to have to take painkillers to sleep. I’ll never play the bass again. It’s truly gone.

But that’s okay. I’ll just have to learn to soar through others. Brushy, for example, plays one-string guitar.

What a great voice. Just like a horn. That’s one of those songs that you never forget.

Les Claypool on his one-string Whamola bass. Wait for the solo at 4:00. Blimey!

I wish, wish, wish I could join them. My wish will never be granted. When it comes to playing the bass, goodbye is forever, as Arcadia warned me almost thirty years ago.

Sometimes you have no choice
Sometimes you’ve got no voice to say

Yes, I lost my voice, and it isn’t coming back. I can live with it. Today I’m no worse off than I was yesterday. In fact I can finally, genuinely put this loss behind me and continue looking forward. Though Arcadia was right, so was Ann Landers.

Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.

I have a good life.

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