Doug Gill – 'I Hear Thunder'

The expression guitar pull as it was explained to me came about when a bunch of the so-inclined sat in a circle with only one guitar which was passed around like a jug of moonshine. When your turn came around you like as not might have to  "pull" the guitar out of the previous player's hands.  One can easily imagine the relations or friends stopping over, sitting on the porch after supper, then "Hey y'all, let's do a guitar pull!"

Now a guitar pull at a gathering of songwriters carries different weight. Most of the circle brings their own guitar, for starters, as they likely know what they're in for ahead of time. And when their turn comes around they don't just play a song, they offer up a piece of themselves–a creation they dreamed up and wrote down and worked out–and now perform out loud for other songwriters. There's no stage but the circle, no audience but other writers. They play for the opinion and the respect of their peers. And that has to affect the delivery. Or so I speculate.

I was standing right behind Doug Gill when his turn came around. Doug is an accomplished professional songwriter, recorded by Wynonna, Allison Krauss, Chris LeDoux, Marshall Tucker, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless... He already has respect and admiration. What are the stakes for him I wonder? I looked all over the internet for a song called "I Hear Thunder" but this song never turned up.  So I wonder how many people have even heard it, how often Doug has even played it. For anyone. Hearing how the room chatter stopped as he caught his rhythm, watching everyone's faces, listening to the deliberately slow way he built the song because he had the room, because every single player in the room was giving to him as he was giving to them...I wonder: playing something from your heart for a few well qualified friends, stretching out the notes because the song deserves it, hearing that cupped spatter of sincere applause as you let the notes fade–that moment surely stands high when looking back down the road you've traveled...?  what a rush. So I speculate.

‌And that's Bob Tobin on harmonica and Mac Walter on guitar figuring out the frills on the fly. Friggin' fabulous.

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