Back in the late 1970’s my parents, Pat and George Childress, opened a club here in College Station called Grin’s. At the time it was one of the only music venues in the entire Brazos Valley, and we had some wonderful artists perform there. One of those artists was a very young, shy Lyle Lovett, who was a classmate of mine at Texas A&M.
Ken and I both worked at the club in a variety of positions. Ken mostly ran sound, and I cooked, cleaned, and tended bar.
One night Eric Taylor was performing, and right at the end of the night, as he was finishing up his last set, I started closing down the bar by filling the beer coolers. I confess, I was not paying any attention to Eric even though I love his music. The plain old fact was–I just wanted to go home, so I was hurrying to get things set up for the next day so that I could leave. After all, I had been there for many hours and I still had homework to do. Could you blame me? Anyways, while Eric was singing, Lyle came over and asked me to please stop so that the noise from the bottles wouldn’t be so obtrusive. But instead of pausing to listen to Eric’s beautiful voice, I just brushed Lyle off and kept on keeping on.
I didn’t realize how upset Lyle was until he wrote “Closing Time,” and so there you have it. It’s not one of my proudest moments, even though I’m happy that Lyle got a powerful, provocative song out of it.
I learned something important that night. I learned that hearts need songs and songs need hearts. Ever since then, I stop for music. It’s more important than whether or not the beer is cooled down.
So, on November 11, 2010, when Lyle performed at Texas A&M, and invited Ken and his best friend Kevin Duff onto the stage to sing with him, it was a mighty sweet reunion. I managed to catch it on my iphone video, and while the video is bleached out, I think you can hear the friendship in all three voices, a friendship that has lasted for over thirty years.
Wasn’t that lovely?
And here are some photos from that night:
The person on the left is my mom, Pat Childress. Winnie Garner is on the right. And a member of the Large Band is in the middle.
Here I am with cellist John Hagen, who met Lyle at Grin’s when John was playing with a band called Eaglebone Whistle.
And here I am with Lyle.
Yes, he seems to have forgiven me for all those noisy beer bottles. And like I said, the song has lived on, and so has our friendship. How sweet is that?