"used guitars already have their stories. Their memories. You ought to write your own on a clean slate.”

So true. The longer you have a guitar, the more stories it has. I couldn't imagine a life without music or playing guitar.

If you don't mind I am going to plug my new-ish band. We have our first real (paying) gig Saturday. We have been live-streaming on TikTok for a year.


Here is a song I wrote:


Expand full comment

Very enjoyable story. Sometimes during the ritual of life we need to find an outlet that we alone enjoy and just do it.

Expand full comment

My gut reaction as a wife with two kids is to say, "$750!? What were you thinking?". 😂 But as the musician in my house, I've put down some serious cash for instruments and equipment over the years. I had an American Fender P bass at one point. I bought it used, but it was still really expensive. My teacher at the time said if I wanted to play blues, that was "the one" I needed. It was a beast and years later, when I was playing acoustic rock, I traded it for a smaller jazz bass. I still miss my red Fender sometimes, though. 🥲 And the blues. 💙

Expand full comment

Well, first off, the story made me cry. Music is my first love, after all. Secondly, I’m getting to that age where losing a spouse is a real concern. The guy I’ve been listening to lately is named Jelly Roll. His rap/blues/rock combo is unique and deeply meaningful. He talks about real life problems and how God saved him. Give him a listen if you don’t know who he is. ☺️

Expand full comment

Here's a song that I think fits and I've been thinking about since my drummer died.

Fans of The Descendents have different theories on the song, whether it was an homage to another band, or Bill Stevenson's thank you to his own band.

They're some of the most genuine people in rock n roll and easily one of the most underrated American bands of all time.


Expand full comment

Beautiful, I can remember testing out instruments in the past and how they made me feel.

Expand full comment

... he wanted to play.

Great story Justin -- thank you!

Expand full comment

How wonderful to write this for your brother!

I'm always "late to the game", but on YouTube, I'm listening to Japanese guitarist Ichika Nito (also is his YT channel name). He plays Ibañez amplified guitars.

Expand full comment

Excellent story. I know nothing about music other than I like to listen to it. Love how you tied in the family.

Expand full comment
Jan 31·edited Jan 31Liked by Justin Deming

"There was a tiny hole in his heart." I think this is your opening line right here. As a reader we see this sentence and ask, Why? (IMHO ha ha ha.)

Fine story, I can feel the lurching of his heart at the sight of all those Gibsons hanging on the wall. Such treasure! My mama, Katy, played a black sunburst arch-top f-hole Gibson for years. I still remember the bold sound of that mid-century steel-string acoustic . Thanks for reminding me, Justin. As far as bands... I have been listening to early 70s Graham Nash. He breaks my heart when he says, "I just want to hold you, I don't want to hold you down." One of the many genius musicians of my halcyon hippie days. Sigh. Thanks for the memories.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpkELuj6kn4 - Graham Nash

Expand full comment

Such a sweet encounter between two music lovers. I wasn't expecting the ending--but glad that Mel has his music for comfort. Amazing how many memories and emotions are attached to the music we love.

Expand full comment

Great story! There’s a lot of empathy between characters in your stories, which I appreciate.

In terms of rock songs, I was listening to one of my favorite bands in the car the other day - New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions.”

Expand full comment
Feb 19Liked by Justin Deming

Had that same feeling the first time I strummed a J-200. Could never justify the cost though. Jimmy Dooms Roulette Weal comments section brought me here. I like stories like this. Good work!

Expand full comment

Great story Justin!

This puts some intrigue into it with the comment about his doctor's appointment. I read into it that it might not be good news.

As far as band or song, I've been listening to a lot of music lately. I can just point you to the two genres I listen to all the time: Country and Contemporary Christian. Anything in those genres gives me inspiration for my writing. If I'm not listening to music, the cursor sits still and the words don't flow. When the music is on, the words flow like crazy.

Expand full comment

Life is not a word but a sentence. And each sentence has a rhythm, a heartbeat.

Friendly regards from Nicaragua, heavily sanctioned, where I scrape by at the Gates of Hell, the Masaya Volcano, at the very bleeding heart of Central America. Hell, sweet hell, err, home. I meant home, sweet hell!


I have decided to chime in with something transcendentally relevant. Enjoy, you do not have to pledge anything, my efforts are always free.

Left to my own devices and salivating in the tropical scorcher, in the erupting drought season, the promised $20 bill of rights rain has not even started yet for me here on Subtract. It seems like nobody´s gold pennies can reach my flying BullShip skyhigh. Yet I stay working Job, patience is my virtue upon the rack, tried, drawn, and quartered as vice driven through the rusty nails of my faith .... until I, one-armed, cannot carry my heavy cross anymore.

Substack is the greatest platform where I can share my massive varied witing stuff. I have quite a few posts already here with 60 subscribers and growing every day as people are finally noticing my stranded S.O.S. sign on the beach! Thank God, thanks to you good people. God bless you!






Expand full comment

Music, and stories about it, always tug at my heartstrings. Both of my sisters are self-taught hobby guitarists. Me, not so much. I'm a flute player, and boy oh boy did your story make me miss playing. I might just have to sit down and make some music now.

Expand full comment