Mesa Musician Defies Odds: Gene Moran, the Rebel Americana Singer/Songwriter, Shares the Heartfelt Story Behind “Dead Man’s Guitar”

Mesa, AZ-based Gene Moran, the “musician who shouldn’t be a musician,” is establishing himself as the modern rebel Americana singer/songwriter with his newest song, “Dead Man’s Guitar.” Check it out on YouTube here:

“Dead Man’s Guitar” tells the true story of the first guitar Moran ever owned, which he received when his uncle Andy Arias passed away. Moran describes his uncle as the “best guitarist in Yuma AZ,” and credits his lifelong love of the instrument to the time they spent working on guitar together. Today, Moran finds his sound somewhere between the Hank Williams school of lonesome, the more experimental landscape of alt-rock, grunge and fuzz, with a sprinkle of unmistakably Arizonan desert rock. Though he’s now a seasoned live music professional, many may find it hard to believe that Moran once struggled with stage fright!

“Starting from when I was 15, I’ve always wanted to be in bands like my friends in high school,” he explains. “But I had a hang up about being disabled and playing on stage and thought I would look stupid.”

Moran was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disability that affects fine and gross motor skills. Though his condition initially made learning an instrument look tremendously difficult, Moran’s desire to create his own music pushed him to find his own unique approach.

“I shouldn’t even be able to play the guitar,” he admits. “Because of the dexterity required to play the guitar I had to figure out a different way– By laying the guitar flat on my lap I was able to use my thumb to press down on certain strings and mute other strings to create chords. However, my dexterity limits my ability to play cover songs due to the complexity of how a traditional guitarist plays guitar. I figured being able to create chords is all you need to create songs. This forced me to start songwriting.”

Listen on Spotify here:

Moran kept his songs to himself for nearly thirty years before having the courage to show a few of them to his friend Joe Peña, a respected songwriter from Tucson, Arizona.

“He said I was stupid for thinking I would look stupid playing on stage in my wheelchair,” Moran fondly recalls. “He also said it would be a shame if I didn’t share my songs and perform live. So, I took his advice, and I played an open mic night. My songs were really well received, and I never looked back.”

“Dead Man’s Guitar” belongs on every predictive song of the summer playlist, as it is sure to resonate in the hearts of those among us who understand the power of a worthy singalong– All of the tastemakers and community leaders who take great songs and turn them into classics. Be sure to give it a listen before it arrives at a campfire, block party, or other celebration of summer fun near you.