Gretsch Drums on the Side of the Road

A few months ago, we were walking the dog when we noticed a set of drums sitting beside a pile of junk on the side of the road. We headed over to the man sitting nearby.

“Are you giving away those drums?”


“Do they work?”

He told us they did, that he’d carted them around for decades. They had belonged to a musician friend who had died.

“You’re welcome to them.”

We loaded them into the back of the car and thanked him.

For all we knew, though, they were crap. But they were free. Nice price, anyway.

The local music store refurbished them with new heads and a bit of cosmetic fixing. They were missing a couple stands, a crash, and a snare, but were in good condition, an original set of Gretsch round badge: bass, floor tom, and tom tom. After adding the missing pieces, they were ready to play.

It might seem strange, but it was a sort of sign. A few years ago, I was knocked down with an illness that put me on disability. This wayward set of drums has given me a sense of health and sanity. Anyone who has a long-term illness knows what I mean. You can feel sorry for yourself, or you can get busy living. According to a T-shirt I saw long ago, “Life is not a rehearsal.”

So, at 52, I’m playing drums. It helps that the set sounds good, although starting out I wasn’t sure what sounded good and what sounded rotten, but I have a fantastic drum teacher, a decent sense of rhythm, a background playing piano, a musician for a husband, and decades of listening to every kind of music I could get my hands on.

There is no “later.” There is only “now.”


By Ann Barnett

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful story! Contrary to popular belief, life doesn’t end at fifty, and magic happens when you least expect it.

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