I found this abandoned piano with weathered keys outside at a small country truck stop, sitting in a remote and muddy dirt corner at the end of a line of parked trucks. It was very weathered and broken up from being outside through high summer heat and deep cold year after year. It stood homeless as the centerpiece in a small junk pile of assorted debris and common trash. An old piano is very hard to get rid of. It was most likely abandoned at the truck stop on a midnight dump-and-run mission, and not left for live music at back lot trucker parties.
Every black key had split off and laid semi-scattered; the warping veneer went in waves. The almost jumbled white keys had flaked off most of their plastic covering. Over time, everything gathered a layer of grit caked onto it. Chunks and bits laid in apocalyptic ways as if the human race left town 100 years ago. I was very careful not to disturb any of it. Every bit of character detail this grungy abandoned piano possessed would only add to the photograph.
It was found accidentally one morning while paying for breakfast at the truck stop. Looking out the window behind the cashier and squinting to be sure, I could see the back of an upright piano way off in the distance. I went out of the restaurant door and walked over. Sure enough, there was the coming-apart carcass of an upright with these weathered piano keys.
Walking up to it, I gave it a kick to make sure there was nothing living in it like a musical raccoon or two. Since this site lies fairly close to home, I returned to photograph it in detail several times in different ways, like progressing chapters in the Book of Deterioration. Being a true country junk pile, someone had thrown some broken plate glass mirrors onto it.
Later, the mirrors were later incorporated into other compositions, like Mother Nature’s Greatest Hits #13926. That picture is a bit wild using a little trick photography. See for yourself!
On another visit, I found it pushed over on its back which would seem to be the last act for this musical Titanic. Yet, even more pictures were made after that too. The remains are still there with the usual seasonal weeds coming up through. To be certain, the only tunes it plays nowadays are on the other side of the Pearly Gates.
This image is partially hand-tinted black and white done for effect. Here’s a picture of this piano the day it was discovered called Your Veneer Is Showing #14737, done in full color.
Location: Munster, Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Picture and text © Andrew Dierks
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