and the band plays on...
September 30th 2002
Ain't life amazing. We've just lost the poet laureate of the late 20th century. A man who painted the pictures of our life stories, in one way or another, using himself as the canvas. A well so deep, even today, the coin is still dropping. And we're sad. Rightfully so. We will miss him. But think about the relationship you personally had with him. Some of us were lucky enough to have spent time with him. All of us were lucky enough to have traveled around inside that imaginative genius of his. And really, that's how most of us can define the basis of our friendship. Had it not been for his music, most of us would have never known this man. He would have been just another pilgrim traveler. He might have been a guy on a bus, a clerk at the motor vehicle department, or an unfortunate soul on a street corner with a cardboard sign. Would we have known him then? Would we have taken the time to know him? Maybe, probably not. It was the gift he was given, the gift he passed on, that made each and every one of our introductions possible. And what a gift. In this world, which can be hateful and ugly, his music was a constant reminder that beauty is the true evolutionary path.
It was by the very nature of his words that he strung a satin ribbon through the joys and heartbreaks of life's play making them partners in the dance. For instance; A kid gets bored at home, wants to see the world. Heads to California. Finds what he thinks is heaven, gets whomped by a serious dose of reality, pays for it big time, and just before he gives it all up, he is redeemed when he finds out that, after all that has happened to him, the dream he thought was lost had been his all along. Shakespearean. Matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised if The Bard wasn't among the first to greet him as he stepped down from that train. I can see the two of them getting into Bobby Dale's ratty but hip station wagon (that he borrowed from someone) and heading off to Waylon's ranch to kick back and tell a few stories. I for one would like to hear that conversation.
So we're here, together in this most unlikely space, as a group, a family if you will, remembering the man. Mourning the passing of the body. Celebrating the immortality of his music. Strangers to each other, most of us, but brought together to share a moment of love for a pal. I'd bet a paycheck that, at this very moment, all of us are listening to his voice and guitar spinning one tale or other that wraps us in a warm, comfortable quilt. That doesn't sound like he's gone to me. It sounds more like that, which was his essence, is and will be an everlasting companion. I'll take it, with gratitude. And, although I'm miles away from my friends, Joe, Dave, Gary, Pete, et al, I'll be close to them today courtesy of The Mick. Sad? Yeah, we're sad. I'd like to have been able to say, "So long." I'd like to attend his service. I guess we'll have to let Cortilia and Maggie stand in for us. Unhappy? Not on your life. Man, I got to hear sounds that thousands of generations never heard. That is, until now.
- Mike Lowther.
Mickey Newbury 1940 - 2002