Calgary·Point of View

Dear Diary: Up for the challenge. The bucket list item this Calgarian is taking care of during COVID-19

In this instalment of our series Dear Diary: In a Time of COVID-19, Warren Smistad is picking away at something he’s wanted to learn for a long time.

Avid guitar payer wants to learn the Doc Watson song Deep River Blues

Warren Smistad is using his time during the COVID-19 pandemic to pick away at something he’s wanted to learn for a long time. (Submitted by Warren Smistad)
CBC Calgary wants to know how you are living these days. What are you doing differently? What makes you laugh? Cry? Scream? Have you started a new hobby? Let us know.

In this instalment of our series, Dear Diary: In a Time of COVID-19, Warren Smistad is picking away at something he's wanted to learn for a long time. This submission has been edited for clarity and length.


I am an avid guitar player, I've been playing for almost 50 years. There is one song that has always been in the back of my mind to learn; the old Doc Watson song Deep River Blues.

Some videos I have seen of someone picking this song have indicated that it isn't as easy to play as it would seem. So, with that in mind I was determined to learn the song and after several hours of practice I have it mastered.

The trick is coordinating your fingers to play the chords and pick the melody at the same time while maintaining the rhythm of the song.

I chose to follow the example of the (in my opinion) greatest acoustic flat top picker ever: Doc Watson. Likely the hardest song I have learned prior to this was Green Sleeves, or the lead guitar part to Canadian Railroad Trilogy by Gordon Lightfoot — long hard battle with that one.

Thanks COVID-19 for opening up the time for me to learn something I've wanted to for some time.

Warren plays Deep River for us in CBC Calgary's latest Dear Diary profile where we ask for a page from your journal on what life is like with COVID-19. 1:22

Do you have a story to tell us? Click here to share a page from your diary.

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