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Frank and first electric guitar




The first song I ever wrote was with my brother, Frank. He was ten years old. I was thirteen. My parents had bought him his first guitar, an acoustic. Before that, the two of us constructed makeshift guitars out of two-by-fours, construction paper, nails and rubber bands of varying sizes. The sound was not good.

My mother, when at a loss for words to respond to some screwball thing Frank or I did or said, would spout truisms. One Sunday, after god knows what we did, she piped up with, Many a true word is said in a joke.” 

Wow,” Frank and I said, that sounds like a line from a song,” so we wrote one. He wrote the music, folksy strumming. I wrote the lyrics. The opening line was, She said, many a true word is said in a joke,” and the rest of the tune had some equally folksy, and we thought, profound message. 

When Frank and I were done writing our song, we played it for our parents. They liked it, an Oh, it’s nice” kind of liked it. The two of us wanted a bigger and more adoring audience. My friend Linda’s mother, Dolly Dini, loved my brother. He was sweet and smart, looked like the 1962 American kid, and liked Dolly as much as she did him. So, my brother said, Let’s call Dolly.” My mother said okay, and Frank phoned her, and excited enough to explode said, Mrs. Dini. It’s Frank. I wrote a song with Barbara. Do you want to hear it?”

Minutes after the kitchen wall phone was in the cradle, Dolly, her husband, Frankie, and Linda were sitting on our sofa. Frank and I played the song, got applause and Dolly said, It’s about as good as anything else I’m hearing on the radio these days.” High praise indeed. We were beside ourselves, dreams of being bigger than The Kingston Trio dancing in our heads.

My mother and father definitely had no idea the course Frank’s life would take after they bought him that acoustic guitar and then his first electric guitar in the picture up top. He went on to a major music career and composed many songs. It took sixty years for Frank and me to write another song together. Please have a listen to that tune: Plenty Other Things That Do.”