Originally posted on Facebook…
To dad, had the honor of reading it last night to my family at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) as we honored him with the Troubadour Award and a friend suggested I publish it somewhere. Well here it is: (not edited and kinda long)
I really wouldn’t even know where to start, in terms of beginning to tap into the budding of my fathers legacy. I could tell you about the time he arrived in Nashville at 18, slept under a park bench at Centennial Park, and began his career. But I wasn’t there. I could talk about when he left Music City in the late 70s and headed out west to the golden coast for some mysterious years I just hear little accounts of. Bits and pieces float into that story that have been passed down, including dad being the one who brought Howie Epstein out to California for the first time, and a hilarious tale of Howie leaving the van door unlocked and getting a taste of big city living via instrument theft. Again, I wasnt really around. This lore, this excitement, well it’s all parts of my dads career I have heard of, and admire. But I can’t really paint a picture for you of that. What I can recall of the beginning comes from perhaps a different angel, for it wasn’t the beginning for him at all. But It was the start of a family that shaped him, and led to his most inspired creations. Rocking out in the basement with my hair wet, we must have lived on Grandview at the time, to his song “Radio Girl”. Running around singing “Lipstick Sunset” on the playground. I was young. This was just the start. I won’t forget the day the video for “Have a Little Faith In Me” was made. We drove out to a farm, and my brother Rob was there, and my cousin Allen too. My little bud Gabe was running around, and I had on overalls. My mother Nancy was there. She was a beam of light the whole day. My dad was happy to have us together. He has always been a family man. We are a blend. My dad and I had moved back to Nashville after my birth mom died in 1985. According to my beloved Aunt Cynthia (my birth mothers twin), dad had told her “California is no place to raise a child”. I am so grateful he took me back to Tennessee, because then in 1986 we met Nancy and her son Rob. Nancy would become my mother, and Rob my big brother. Two years down the line, came “Georgia Rae”. She is a real child, not just a popular song. Number one question I am asked at my merch table is “Are you Georgia Rae??”. Suddenly there were 5 of us. Though my dad was often working on records, touring or sitting out in his studio with piles of yellow legal pads that he wrote his songs on, he was also making grilled cheeses, giving us CCR records, racing cars (he won a whole series by the way), going to the beach, and coming to our school plays. All with us. We were as important to him as the music was, actually we were what lit it up is what it felt like. So many amazing memories, growing up the kid of a musician. I wouldn’t know what to even talk about. My sister and I went buck wild when he went on tour with Hootie and the Blowfish. I got to go to 328 Performance Hall as a THIRD GRADER! That place was 21 up! My brother and I both had our turns going out on the road with him to sell tees, pretty sure we both sucked at it, but oh the memories. And oh the beauty of squeezing into one of those cozy little bus bunks. Hmmm, there was the time Eric Clapton called the house and asked to speak to dad and my mother said “YEAH RIGHT” and hung up on him. But he persisted, bc this man along with BB KING wanted to cover dads song ‘Riding With The King’! Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Linda Ronstadt…these are just a few of the folks who sing his songs. Also, my dad wrote the soundtrack for the Country Bears movie and as teens my sister and I got to walk a red carpet and see Christopher Walken. What life were we living? It was surreal because of him. Yet amidst the hard work, the music, the hours spent on the road, the endless devotion to fans and to standing on stage and singing his songs, he is dad to me. And that is what I love most about him. Yes, I can ask his advice on certain things most kids can’t with their parents. Band dynamics, road snacks, sanity on the highway…he has plenty of experience. He wouldn’t tell you, and he may even cringe when I say it, but he is very rock n roll. And yes he showed me how to play the Pearl Jam song “Nothingman” one day when I wandered out to his studio on the farm where we all lived while I was growing up. He wrote the chords down on a paper plate, and from that I learned an F, which is a tough one. I think the reason he is such a beautiful songwriter is because he has flung himself so completely into life. He loves his family. He quit drugs and alcohol to make it better for himself and for us. He opened his eyes in a way that most people don’t, and with that came poetry. I remember the making of every record, the process, the tours. He put his whole self into it every time. Being on a family vacation in Anguila and listening to the mixes for ‘Walk On’. We picked up a hitch hiker that day who told us about the island and we found ourselves playing “Dust Down a Country Road”. Eating pulled pork sandwiches when he would come home from recording ‘Crossing Muddy Waters’. Going to the Castle where he made (whatever record) and learning about Al Capone and seeing giant fish tanks. A call home from Australia on my 7th birthday that he had to miss. Georgia being side stage on his tour with him and Jackson Browne and dad posing her question “Why does Gumby never ride Pokey?” to an audience of thousands. My mom Nancy being his partner in crime that when he has the luxury of taking with him draws the admiration of all. Apparently Tarantino really took to her and Bob Dylan told her his life story unprompted. My brother Rob designing his all access passes on some tours and being the reason he worked with Matt Wallace after broodingly blasting his Faith No More cassette for months. Dad let us in on his journey and we are so grateful for that. Thousands of songs, all kinds of people, stages, cities, places…he let us be a part of them. Through his love and his music. Just as he has all of you. We love you dad, and are so proud. You are a true troubadour. Thelonious Monk’s “Tips for Musicians” hung on dad’s studio wall at the farm and it always made me smile. My favorite part that reminded me of my father is the tip that said, “You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig”?
Well, we dig you, pops.
Catch Lilly on the road if you get a chance, she is great live.