Bob Bennett, Bullet Holes, and Beer Bottles

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.     1 Peter 2:9

Recently my wife and I had the privilege of meeting Bob Bennett. He’s the one who wrote the song Mountain Cathedrals. We got to spend a few minutes with him between sets as he led worship at a church not too far from our home. Bob spoke of his respect for his earthly father and sang of his love for his heavenly Father. He also played guitar so fast and well that it seemed to sparkle with a life of its own, and I was a little surprised it didn’t burst into flames as he played. Perhaps it’s made of some fire-resistant material or something.

A while back I went to a pawnshop looking for a guitar to take to the backwoods. A guitar that I wouldn’t have to worry about putting a few scratches on. Years ago I purchased a set of used golf clubs from one of these shops. The clubs served me well as I became proficient at plopping one shot after another into sand traps and lakes on my way down the fairway. But I digress.

I visited a few shops on my guitar search and examined some over-priced clunky pieces of wood. I was about to give up for the day when I drove to the last shop in the area.

Toward a dimly lit back corner I saw a pitiful display of a guitar. It was anyone’s guess what the previous owners had used it for, but apparently it wasn’t for playing concerts. The strings were almost black, and may have been older than the guitar itself. Some strings were broken and splayed out in various directions like tentacles from a jellyfish. I lifted the old guitar off the holder.

It felt as if the last person handling it had just eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I set it on my leg to see if I could possibly tune the few strings still attached at both ends.

That’s when I heard a sound that I’ve never heard from a guitar before.

The sound of glass rattling around inside the body.

Lots of glass.

I looked around to see if anyone else had heard, but no one paid any attention. I tipped the guitar up to look inside. More cascading glass resonated out of the sound-hole.

I couldn’t see very well past the blackened strings and under the poor lighting. Probably a broken beer bottle.

As I put the guitar back on my leg, I noticed that it had a few extra holes in the sides. I felt pretty confident they didn’t come with the original design. Bullet holes?

The strings were so old I couldn’t get the thing anywhere near tuned.

A quick scan on the internet revealed rave reviews from owners of the model. It had a solid top and was indeed old, produced several decades ago and manufactured for only a short time.

I looked down the neck. It bowed so much that the strings appeared to be a few yards off the fret board, and were impossible to play. But the neck wasn’t twisted. I just might be able to straighten it without exploding anything.

I turned the guitar over and looked at the back. More scratches and scrapes, as if it had been dragged over gravel and used for just about everything except splitting wood. The old owners might have done even that had they thought of it.

I looked at the front of the guitar again and thought about the favorable reviews. The aged wood was an appealing color. I’d never done major repair on a guitar before, but if the price was right…

There was no price tag, so I took it to the counter. The young man quoted me a price which wasn’t bad, but for the condition of the guitar, seemed a little high. I pointed out just a few of the major flaws as the sound of tumbling glass confirmed my concerns. He took twenty five percent off. It didn’t even come with a cheap cardboard case, which I thought appropriate. I dug into my pocket and we headed for home.

I sanded and torqued and ground and polished. I even thought about trying to fill in the extra holes, but decided they added too much character. The glass inside turned out to be clear, most likely from a window. I’d never used a shop-vac to clean out the inside of a guitar. I don’t know if it was the opinion of the former owner concerning the guitar itself, or perhaps their playing ability that apparently led them to toss the thing through a closed window.

I put on a set of new strings, tuned it up, and decided that the very first song I wanted to play was Amazing Grace. Don’t know for sure, but I have a feeling that particular song may have never come out of this guitar before.

There’s a bit of richness and warmth that resonates from this old guitar. In fact I was playing it when a moose trotted up to Star the Wonderdog and me (see Moose on the Loose). Who knows, maybe the animals appreciate the sound of it as well. I’m no musician, and I’m sure Bob Bennett’s guitar is worth several lightyears more. But I think the Lord gave us both just the right guitar to do what we do.

I sometimes speak with people who feel a lot like this old guitar I found in a dim, dirty corner. Some live in the prison I visit, some on this side of the razor wire. Used and abused, broken and seemingly worthless from the world’s point of view. But what a change can take place when someone comes along and can see beyond the brokenness.

The opening Scripture above speaks of God’s view – that those who believe in His Son Jesus Christ are His own special people.

I like that.

A lot.

If you’ve never called on Jesus or don’t understand that concept, visit: Got God?

To read/hear more about Bob Bennett, please visit:

To hear Bob sing/play Mountain Cathedrals, visit: Mountain Cathedrals

Hope you have a great day.

Happy tunes.

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