Yesterday we buried my precious Uncle.
It was a bittersweet day fill with lots of laughter and tears.
Over the years I read news articles after news articles, I had seen the livestream of the Nashville Cat series when they interviewed him. I had seen the NAAM interview, I knew he had been inducted into the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame. I had heard about Elvis kicking a gun through one of Uncle Chip’s guitars and it being on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, I had seen the gold records hanging in the mudroom (yes, the mudroom) of his antebellum home shortly after he received them.
but it had never occurred to me that Chip Young was LEGENDARY! To me, he was just Uncle Chip. He never talked about what he did or who he did it with. He was a very humble man.
But the truth is, he was FRIENDS with the likes of Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Joe South, Larry, Rudy and Steve Gatlin, Billy Swan, Felton Jarvis, and many, many others. He had close professional ties to the likes of Elvis, Dolly, etc. Here is a list of SOME of his earthly accomplishments
The service was a wonderful tribute to my Uncle’s life, loves (family, friends and the Lord, not necessarily in that order) and some of his “few” accomplishments in his 50 year career in Nashville.
Honestly, he would probably say his biggest “accomplishment” had nothing to do with his musical talent and everything to do with his love for the Lord, his wife, daughter, grandkids and family and friends.
Larry told the story of the “ching” in the hit “All the Gold in California” that came from 2 wrenches in the toolbox. And then him and Rudy, and Steve played beautiful harmony with Vince Gill accompanying them, for us. No, they didn’t sing their hit, but they sang some beautiful gospel.
Near the end of the service, Vince got up and picked up a guitar, walked to the mic and started telling a story.
It goes something like this:
I was recording an album at a small studio a few years ago and the owner had many guitars hanging on the wall. He told me I could play any of them I’d like and I was drawn to this one. I just knew it was special. It had the magic, it had the mojo…
“I found out it had been Chips”. Chip had played it back in the 60’s and 70’s
(My sidenote: which meant it had THE mojo! Elvis, Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” probably Dolly’s “Jolene”)
For months, every time VInce went into the studio, he picked up Chip’s guitar.
Several years later, Amy (Grant, Vince’s wife) had a Christmas gift wrapped in a blanket for me.
I put my hands on it, and before I unwrapped it, I said, that’s Chip’s guitar.
and it was…
He said Megan had asked him to play and he proceeded to play and sing a beautiful song, and he did it “Chip style” with his thumb.
(Hope I got that close enough to right Vince).
When he started playing, I melted.
He sung beautifully, as I watched him thumb pick, I could imagine Uncle Chip’s fingers (and thumb) playing. All I could think was “he’s playing Uncle Chip’s guitar.” I had probably seen that guitar many times as a child and never realized the significance of it.
This is what he sang
As we were walking out, I told dad, “I sure would like to hold that guitar”
So after everyone had walked out, Daddy said, “you want to go talk to Vince”
I marched right up to Vince Gill and thanked him for playing a beautiful song and then I asked to see “my Uncle’s” guitar.
He was SO gracious to a grief stricken neice
he got the guitar out of the case.
And I asked to hold it.
And I did.
And Isaac did. And I lost the picture 😦
And we visited about my Uncle while we held his guitar.
And it was a sweet time.
And for the record, I don’t know many people that would tell Grammy award winner,
“You played a nice song, but can I see my Uncle’s guitar?”
If you happen to read this Vince, please forgive me.
I hope I wasn’t too rude to seem disinterested in meeting you.
It REALLY was nice to meet you.
But my Uncle has always and will always hold a VERY special place in my heart (You’ll read about that in another post).
I THANK YOU from the VERY BOTTOM of my heart for the precious gift of letting me hold
my Uncle’s guitar.