I finally got around to doing that on the second day of 2015, already accomplishing one of my New Year’s resolutions. As I sat there on the metal bench playing my acoustic guitar next to the facsimile of Doc sitting there playing his guitar I wasn’t thinking of accomplishments, though. I thought about lost opportunities.
I would have loved to have jammed with Doc while he was still around.
Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson died three years ago at the age of 89. He spent most of those years entertaining folks with his guitar, his harmonica and his voice.
The statue commemorates the fact that, despite being blind since he was a baby, Doc used to walk the 10 miles from his home in rural Deep Gap to Boone to perform on the street. Although he eventually became a bluegrass legend and multiple Grammy winner, Doc always remained humble and seemed approachable. The plaque on the statue in Boone says, “Just one of the people.”
I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to see Doc perform several times at concerts and festivals, including at MerleFest in Wilkes Community College, an event named after Doc’s late son. Doc never seemed fazed by the adoration of his fans or the admiration of the musicians who played along side him.
He was also not afraid of ordinary labor. A man who visited Doc’s home told me that he found the blind guitarist on a ladder fixing shingles on the roof.
Doc Watson never seemed to let an opportunity pass him by, despite having a good excuse to do so. That’s a valuable lesson I’m going to take with me into the new year.