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Heavens Open for Robbie

Heavens Open for Robbie

by R.L. Robinson

from his 1980 GAL Convention lecture

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 8 #4, 1980

My wife says, “You really shouldn’t go up there to San Francisco, because you’re too darn old and your hair’s not long enough.” I did feel a little out of place until I met old Doc Lyle here. While you people were all down here learning the business of lutherie, he and I were finishing off a bottle and having a ball slapping our sides and cackling about all you young folks. We already know it all because we’ve been here about 20 years more than most of you, but that’s the only difference between us.

Twenty years ago the heavens opened up for me and changed my whole life. From that point on it’s been 24 hours a day every day thinking about nothing except the harp. I used to be in the State Department and worked all over the world, living in various countries. My whole world had caved in, my wife was on the verge of leaving me, and I lost everything I had. I was pondering that great question, you know the one that Hamlet asks, “To be or not to be” and whether life is worth all that stuff. Well, I heard something. In Rio de Janero the record stores have 568,000 watt amplifiers. They put the record on inside and the speaker outside. Well, I heard this record and, as I said, the heavens opened up; this sound really turned me on. As I remember that episode I get very emotional. It turns out that the record was by Luis Bordone, who was a Paraguayan with eighteen gold records living in Sao Paulo.

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