Every day is special during the Covid-19 lockdown. We all need something to cheer us up. I found a great photograph of two of my musical heros. They were together, and it looks like they were just enjoying.
The photo is pretty grainy and my limited capabilities will not fix that, but I thought that I had fixed all of the scratches and dust specs - then I noticed a bunch I missed on the tree. Sorry, maybe later (maybe not too.)
While posting this photo it got me thinking about the time that Carol, Ross, Keitha and I travelled to Galveston Texas. Keitha and Ross were heading to Florida, Carol and I were heading to California. I convinced Carol that we should rent a condo in Galveston for a week on our way to California, and we invited Keith and Ross along to meet us at the condo, on their way to Florida. Why Galveston? Townes recorded his best album "Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas" in the Old Quarter Cafe in Galveston, and I really wanted to go there.
Of course as things go, it did not go well. The condo was a dump, the town seemed to still be recovering from a hurricane, I thought that I could put uncooked chicken skin through the garbage disposal (wrong, wrong, just plain wrong), and the Old Quarter was closed. It looked like it had been boarded up for a bit.
We had to fall back to Plan B - how many Guy Fieri recommended Diners, Drive-ins and Dives can we visit in the Houston area (back then we were all willing to pump additional collestoral into our bloodstream.) One was the Lankford Grocery & Market - I remember ordering the most expensive burger on the menu, it included: mac and cheese, and a fried egg, and it likely included all of the saturated fat for a week, for 2 people. It was wonderful.
The photo reminded me.
Nice fall walk - Carol, Glenn, Bronwen, Eryn and me. Out to the St Jacob's Market for Sausage & Sauerkraut, then a 3 hour saunter on the Avon Trail. Highlight for Eryn was the big oak tree. There were still some leaves on the trees as Irene predicted.
The Avon Trail is 111KM in length from St Mary's to St Jacobs. Bronwen thinks that we should do a section each month until we have completed the entirety. We must be working on getting a badge.
This year we knew that Thanksgiving would not be a big celebration with 20+ people because of Covid19. The grandkids had gone back to school and the risk of them bringing the virus into contact with the older family members (me), just did not seem to be worth the risk. Instead, Carol and I thought that dinner with my sister, niece, her son and girlfriend would be an acceptable risk and still capture the Thanksgiving spirit. The turkey was ordered, the cranberries prepared, large squash littered the house, deserts were ordered from Karen, the house was cleaned top to bottom, the turkey bag was purchased.
Erin works in a restaurant. They had a Covid-19 scare with another employee, sent her into quarantine, shut down the restaurant and waited for the test results to come back. Thanksgiving decision needed to be made. Carol and I decided to continue with the zoom call to the entire family, cancel the live dinner with my sister and niece, cook the entire meal and deliver it to those who were supposed to have dinner at our house.
Get more Tupperware! Include driving and drop-off time in the schedule. Worked fine.
We returned home and decided that we would have English muffins with peanut butter and jam. But the next day, I made some modifications to the Turkey Pot Pie on Bon Appetit's website and put together a Turkey Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping. I have never worked with the recommended puff pastry and was not willing to risk the pot pie to a faulty topping.
When the stores opened the day after Thanksgiving, they were giving turkeys away. We decided to cook another turkey and deliver it to Katie. Katie is in the middle of the longest renovation in history and does not have a cooktop or oven. We met them in Milton and handed over a cooked 20-pounder, squash, dressing, gravy and cranberries.
You know Thanksgiving was a lot of fun this year.
Just raw talent. She has lots of great videos on Youtube: The New West Virginia Waltz, The Bells of Every Chapel, The Whisper Waltz. Once in a blue moon someone comes along that scares me with their talent.
The man should have been named Poet Lauriate of the US years ago. I hope he can smoke in heaven. I hope he meets his parents and his brother Doug.
An Article by Jason Isbell (another great songwriter)
A few years ago, my wife, Amanda, was touring in Scandinavia with John Prine, and when they arrived in Sweden she saw him write “songwriter” on his customs form as his occupation. “When did you decide that it was OK to write ‘songwriter’ on these forms?” she asked him. “Today,” he told her. “I usually put dancer.”
John Prine was not a dancer. He was a songwriter and one of the best that ever lived, but he did love to dance. He danced around his house in Nashville with his wife, Fiona, danced in the driver’s seat of his beloved Cadillac and danced offstage every night, twirling an imaginary pocket watch. Once while performing onstage with John, I noticed him glance down past his Italian driving shoes to check the digital clock on the floor, and he saw me notice. He leaned in and whispered, “I wish we had more time.”
When John developed squamous cell cancer on his neck in 1998, his doctor told him he might never be able to sing again. John told him, “Doc, you’ve never heard me sing.” He didn’t consider himself to be much of a singer; his honest delivery had always been what mattered most. Cancer and the subsequent treatments left John with a low whisper of a singing voice, but one that, if anything, aligned even more perfectly with the hard-won wisdom of the characters he created.
John was in his early 20s when he wrote “Hello in There” from the perspective of an old man sharing an empty nest with his lonely wife. Hearing him sing the song after decades of hard living and surviving numerous illnesses brought new meaning to the lyrics, now delivered by a man who had caught up with the character he created. John always said when he grew up, he wanted to be an old person.
John was known for his ability to tell stories that related universal emotions through the lens of his gigantic imagination. He constructed what Bob Dylan called “Midwestern mind trips” from the tedium of the everyday, and he was a master at concealing the work involved.
His songs sounded like they’d been easy to write, like they’d just fallen out of his mind like magic. He was praised for his dry humor and loved for his kindness and generosity. John had the courage to write plainly about the darkest aspects of the American experience in songs like “Sam Stone,” about a drug-addicted Vietnam veteran; “Paradise,” about the devastating effects of strip mining on a Kentucky town; and “The Great Compromise,” about his disillusionment with his country. Among his peers in the legendary Nashville songwriting community of the 1980s, his songs were the gold standard.
Of all the things I love about John’s songwriting, my favorite is the way he could step so completely into someone else’s life. John had the gift and the curse of great empathy. In songs like “Hello in There” and “Angel From Montgomery,” he wrote from a perspective clearly very different from his own — an old man and a middle-aged woman — but he kept the first-person point of view. He wrote those songs and the rest of his incredible debut album while a young man working as a letter carrier in Chicago. “Angel From Montgomery” opens with the line “I am an old woman/named after my mother.”
I remember hearing his 1971 recording of this song for the first time and thinking, “No, you’re not.” Then a light bulb went off, and I realized that songwriting allows you to be anybody you want to be, so long as you get the details right. John always got the details right. If the artist’s job is to hold a mirror up to society, John had the cleanest mirror of anyone I have ever known. Sometimes it seemed like he had a window, and he would climb right through.
After John faced a second bout with cancer in 2013, it seemed as though he was playing in extra innings — but he made the most of every bit of it. When Amanda — a fiddler and one of John’s favorite people — and I went into the studio to play and sing on his final album, 2018’s “The Tree of Forgiveness,” we were amazed by the beauty of the songs he’d written after more than 50 years of writing music. John was still razor sharp and he still had a story to tell. On the subsequent tour he played to the biggest audiences he’d ever drawn. He turned 72 that year.
But John’s work wasn’t just about his own music. In 1984, he and his longtime manager Al Bunetta and Dan Einstein started the independent record label Oh Boy Records. In the mid-’80s the major labels seemed like the only game in town, but Oh Boy succeeded against the odds. It released John’s albums along with records by Kris Kristofferson, Dan Reeder and Todd Snider, and it’s still finding new talent and operating with its artists’ best interests in mind.
He was a mentor to me and to my wife, who even helped him work on his songs sometimes, in between playing pranks on him while they were on tour. John saw her as a brilliant songwriter in her own right, and if John said you were a great songwriter, you knew it was true.
And there was more to John’s life than music. John and Fiona Prine had a beautiful relationship, loving and balanced and kind. Fiona understood John better than anyone else. After Amanda and I were married, Amanda started asking all the couples we knew, “What’s the secret to staying together?” John and Fiona gave the same answer, and it was the best one we’ve heard so far: Stay vulnerable. John remained vulnerable in love and in his work. He never played it safe.
When I was a baby, my 17-year-old mother would lay me on a quilt on the floor of our trailer in Alabama and play John Prine albums on the stereo. Forty years later, my daughter would call him Uncle John as he bounced her on his knee. My wife and I would sing his songs with him in old theaters or sometimes in his living room. In the summer, we’d all eat hot dogs with our feet dangling in his swimming pool. Now he’s gone and my heart is broken.
This week, John Prine danced off this stage and onto the next one, and I like to think he’s somewhere sharing a song and a cocktail with all the friends he outlived.
Over night I included a caption technique to all of the photographs on the website. This does not mean that I have added a meaningful caption to the photos it just means that if I do, it will be displayed by the lightbox. At this time there will be lots of captions that are just a number, or similar gibberish. Over time I would expect these to be updated.
The caption is displayed when the lightbox is active. Click on a photo. See caption in bottom left.
Carol and I have completed day 12 of our self-isolation. There is nothing too difficult about self-isolation but you quickly run out of things to do. There are many ways that we could be productive but it just does not seem to make sense to plan too far ahead. Twelve days does not sound long but it seems forever.
We watch a bit of Netflix but cannot get engrossed too deeply; COVID-19 is always on our mind. After Netflix we work on a jigsaw puzzle for an hour. Then we think about food. We are well stocked up but not much fresh food. We have not seen a salad since Portugal. I make soup most days - 2 carrots, a slice of turnip, a slice of cabbage, a handful of dried mushrooms, some peas, NSA (no salt added) chicken soup stock and a handful of rotini. 90 minutes later we have a great bowl of soup. The stove does all of the work.
Once we are finished with self-isolation we will be able to go for a walk. I am looking for some local trails that we have not walked. We were defnitely spoiled by the scenery in Portugal. Everywhere we walked it was very beautiful. It is good to be home but around here there is nothing but farm land.
Day 13 and 14 to go.