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Fri, July 19

What's hidden beneath the surface of a man

"I don't call myself a guitar player," said Jim Greenwood as he sits on the front porch of his Dewey, Arizona home.
Richard Haddad

"I don't call myself a guitar player," said Jim Greenwood as he sits on the front porch of his Dewey, Arizona home.

Audio clip

Look Heart, No Hands, by Jim Greenwood

I carry a replica of an 18th-century pirate coin in my pocket every day of my life. My children call me cheesy because I tell them it's a physical reminder that with each person we meet there is some kind of treasure about them. But like the gold and silver coins discovered on the ocean floor we must be willing to look beneath the surface.

This week I met a man named Jim Greenwood. At first glance he appears to be an average 57-year-old husband and father. Like most of us he works each day to scratch out a living. I believe he installs floors and does other home improvements. He is in love with his wife and the Dewey, Arizona couple have children and grandchildren.

I have only met him once, but as we talked I noticed a guitar and violins in his home, so I inquired. I discovered that Jim's great-grandfather and great-grandmother gave him a gift.

"I don't have very many musicians in my family," Jim explained. "But my great-grandmother and my great-grandfather played the music for all the barn dances and hoedowns in south Arkansas. I inherited my great-grandfather's violin. In order to get it I had to be the first great-grandson born -- and there were six girls born before me."

Without any formal training Jim began to learn how to play the fiddle and the guitar. "I don't call myself a guitar player. I only learned how to play well enough to accompany myself," Jim said.

And so, on quiet evenings when the day's work is done, Jim Greenwood sits in his living room and plays. He accompanies himself as he sings into a single microphone. He's not recording in hopes of fame or record deals. Instead he is building a musical journal for future generations.

"I want to leave a legacy to the Greenwood family," Jim said. "I want my kids and my grandkids to know who I was and listen to my voice after I'm gone, which I hope is not very soon."

Jim thinks his great-grandfather would be proud that he learned to play that old fiddle. He hopes his great-grandmother would also be proud that he learned how to play the guitar -- at least enough to carry on a family tradition.

Jim was kind enough to share a sample of what he records. Below is nothing more than Jim, an old guitar and a microphone in the living room of a modest Dewey home. The song is "Look Heart, No Hands" made popular by country music superstar Randy Travis. I've heard Randy Travis sing it, and while Travis sings it well there is something unique and wonderful about the way Jim Greenwood sings it -- it's the sincerity that comes through from a man who wants to leave something behind for his children. Listen carefully and you'll find a treasure.


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