Common Chords by Randall Hill
“I started playing the guitar in 1960,” says Danny Stanley, who sits next to a large capacity freezer in his taxidermy showroom outside Loris. A deerskin draped over the freezer protects his Martin guitar case, which lies open. “My uncle showed me about three chords back then and gave me a country songbook.” The case, with its blue velvet lining, stores not only his prized HD-28 guitar but two gospel song sheets pressed flat by the guitar and yet to be fully learned by the musician.
On this cold day, the rain outside patters loudly on the shingled roof as Stanley belts out a recent favorite written by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. Afterward he clears his throat, battling a lingering cold. “From then on, I’ve been playing in one band or another,” he says of his musical career.
“I’ve always been interested in music and in wildlife,” he says, after playing a fiddle tune on his mandolin. “The music is more of a sideline for me, and the taxidermy is my true profession. I don’t know; it kind of phased in together as the years went by.”
Before playing his last song of the day, a tune for his recently departed father, Stanley’s voice cracks. “This is a song I heard my daddy sing way back in the ’50s, I guess when I was a little boy. The name of it is ‘There’s a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere.’ ” As Stanley presses a green pick to the eight strings on his mandolin, stuffed critters, large, small and in various stages of completion, make up his audience.