Scott Sherwood's Story

Scott was a natural musician. It wouldn’t be going too far to say that he lived, breathed and ate music. It was woven into the fabric of our relationship from the moment we met. As his wife I spent countless hours listening as he experimented with sound. He was on a quest. He wanted to express himself through the guitar without encumbrance. He sought a sound that existed in his head and for which he was willing to dedicate himself to releasing. It was vocal, sinuous and without pick attack. He drove himself, always searching, always experimenting, never satisfied, never willing to compromise. Scott was never happier (and sometimes never unhappier) than when he had a guitar in his hands.

Tunes (he would never refer to his compositions by any other name) seem to come to him as if he was picking up a frequency that already existed somewhere in the universe. He would sit and noodle on the guitar. When he had finished writing he would tell me that the tune would disappear completely from his consciousness and he would worry that it wouldn’t return. But it always did. He left behind a lot of music.

Scott died of lymphoma. It was a grueling, painful and slow death that played out from November of 2008 to August of 2009. Throughout his illness music anchored him. He worked with a new luthier while undergoing a stem cell transplant. Together they designed a Jazz guitar now named the Scott Sherwood model. His goal was, as always, to and a way to express himself even more rapidly. When conned in the ICU of Cornell hospital he kept his sanity by working with a nurse who revealed she was also a visual artist. Together they looked at colors for his new guitar ultimately choosing a rich red. As sick as he was I could help him to sit up, put the guitar in his hands and he would play for hours. It drove the nurses crazy because the pickup from the guitar would trigger the heart monitors and they would come running. Finally, they gave up and took the monitors off.

Scott had a wry sense of humor and a humility that would never allow him to acknowledge how truly gifted he was. He just loved music. At the beginning of his illness he had just released a duo album called “Ripples”. The tunes on that album were the way he processed the trauma of his first bout with lymphoma. One day, towards the end of his illness, Scott looked at me and said “I didn’t want “Ripples” to be the end. I have more to say.” It broke my heart.

So when in the midst of the Covid madness Paul Hannah reached out to say that he had been going through old recordings and wanted to release them I thought “yes.” The tunes and playing are from a different world. And I know that Scott would be self-critical of these recordings. But the truth is that he did have more to say and we want to hear it. ~ Jennifer Sherwood Gaul