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(This web page originally appeared as an article in the Washington Guitar Society newsletter No. 37, March 1998.)

Familiar Guitar Quotations

. . . or maybe (Not So) Familiar Guitar Quotation (singular), as per the World Wide Web Truth in Titling Act, Berne, Sept. 9, 1886, 828 U.N.T.S. 221.

There's an electronic version of John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations out on the web. (Go to, if it's still there - but not now!) This is the book's 9th edition, published 1901. Its full title is "Familiar Quotations: a collection of passages, phrases, and proverbs traced to their sources in ancient and modern literature".

In its 1158 pages, there is exactly one quote with the word "guitar" in it. It goes like this (let me clear my throat, ahem, ahem, ahem):

Gayly the troubadour
Touched his guitar.

(Bravo! Hoorah! clap clap clap.)

These are the opening lines of a song called "Welcome Me Home", with words and music by Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797-1839). According to Bartlett, Thomas Bayly was also responsible for other such chestnuts as:

We met,--'t was in a crowd.


Why don't the men propose, Mamma?
Why don't the men propose?

All right, I'll admit I haven't used those much lately.

Kidding aside, Bayly has for me, personally, a tangential, but very sentimental, connection with the guitar. He wrote the more familiar song beginning:

Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
Long, long ago, long, long ago.

Mel Bay's arrangement of this song, Long, Long Ago, appeared in Volume 1 of his Classic Guitar Method (page 25). It was one of the first pieces I ever played with independent melody and bass lines, and when I got them going, I just couldn't believe this amazing thing coming out of my guitar. I'll never forget that thrill.

So, thanks, Thomas! I can't think of a sweeter song to have been working on at that historic moment in my life.

P.S. I can put stuff like this in the newsletter. You can, too.


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