As we got up to leave the interview with Gov. Larry Hogan Friday afternoon, we spied the guitar hanging on the wall of his State House office in a big shadow-box frame.
The governor was happy to explain. (The recorder was already turned off.)
Hogan succeeded a governor who played the lead guitar in his own Celtic rock band, but Hogan himself can’t carry much of a tune.
Turns out the guitar is a signed gift to Hogan from country singer Tim McGraw. The poster-sized photo behind it in the frame is a picture of McGraw dedicating his encore song to Hogan at a benefit concert last October 24 for the University of Maryland’s Children’s Hospital.
McGraw sang “Live Life Like You’re Dying.” The lyrics are inside the frame as well along with the song line-up for the evening, inked by McGraw as well.
According to a WBAL TV report that night, Hogan said:
“When I first got my (cancer) diagnosis, the first thing I did after talking to the doctors was go play his song on my iPad, and I keep the lyrics sitting on my desk, so it’s an honor for me to meet him. I thanked him for being an inspiration.”
In his office Friday, Hogan recalled the evening as one of the many emotional moments of his battle with lymphoma. He was nearing the end of his chemotherapy treatments, and the effects of the chemicals killing the cancer cells are cumulative, so his face was swollen and he was feeling poorly.
Hogan met with the singer before the performance. He recalled that at the end of the concert, McGraw called out to Hogan and the crowd began singing along with McGraw peering up at Hogan in the balcony, tears streaming down his face.
The University of Maryland Medical System Foundation presented Hogan with the shadow-box. Hogan said there’s a video of the event, but McGraw’s people have yet to approve its release.
There are photos from the evening on Hogan’s Facebook page.