We have a couple of songs to add to the bourbon playlist and there is a bit of a story associated with one. Several years ago an acquaintance of mine who was a good friend to some good friends of mine had some issues with mental illness. He battled, and in the end succumbed to the illness, taking his own life. I was invited to the “wake” although we weren’t close, but as he was close to people I was close to, I of course attended.
It was a typical Vancouver evening as I was headed downtown to the wake, dark, drizzled, a bit ponderous. I had the radio on and as usual it was tuned to CBC. I’m not sure what program was on, but I remember the piece that was playing as I was pulled up to the hotel. It was called “Gene Autry’s Mission Statement” by an artist calling himself Tiny Bill Cody. The song struck me me, sitting in the dark on the curb and I turned up the radio until the piece was over. When it ended I noted the artists name and then I made my way up to the wake.
A few things are remembered from that evening. Geoff’s mom greeted me at the door. I hadn’t met her before, and I felt a bit awkward as I often do in social situations when death is on the line, but we spoke for a few minutes about Geoff and it was fine. I stayed for a beer or two and then made my way out, feeling a bit out of place in a group that was truly grieving the loss of a loved one. I said something lame like “take care of each other” as I moved out.
But I remembered the song. It was earlyish days for the internet and I had a bit of an effort getting a copy of the album (Stranger, We Have No Leader), but I was determined to got hold of one. I think I ended up buying a copy from the artist’s mom.
Tonight the song spun up on the random list and I was struck again. It has always been on the list of contenders for the Julep Sessions but has never made the final cut. I’m adding it back into the mix tonight. Here’s the opening stanza, just to give you a lyrical taste:
In these turbulent millennial times
Inside a confusing globalized society
The question is not “who should steer this ship?”
But rather “how do we?”
Tiny Bill Cody – Gene Autry’s Mission Statement, from Stranger, We Have No Leader
There’s some fine yodelling in the piece which is why it absolutely is in the wheelhouse of bourbon…and of course any song that references Gene Autry’s Mission Statement has to be considered.
The second song I’m adding is called Frisco Blues, which is a great lyrical acoustic slide blues piece from somebody out of the depths of history known as Bayless Rose. This one made me think instantly of Jack Keroauc and his Big Sur book that I’m reading right now, taking place in part as it does in San Francisco, “the magical City of the Ghandarvas” as Kerouac describes it in the book.
I do believe Geoff would have appreciated both pieces…