Several years ago, we were decorating our annual tree when I pulled out a box that was stored next to the ornaments. In it were our sons’ baby shoes. Instead of neatly wrapping them back up, I decided that they needed a new life, and hung them on the tree.
Later, I added my own little shoe, along with Ken’s. As it turns out, they make perfect decorations, and looking at them reminds me about babies and families and also about all the steps we each take between the seasons, about how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.
Those shoes, along with the ornaments that we’ve collected over all these years together make our tree feel like our history together. So, we wrote this song to celebrate it, and now we’re passing it along to you, our kith and kin.
Not only do we have shoes, but over the past several years, my beloved friend and artist Joy Fisher Hein, has sent me a new “cat angel” each year. Here is one of my favorites.
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?
From Burlington, VT, the drive to Montreal is only a couple of hours long, so Ken and I climbed into our nifty rent car and made the trek. Thanks to a suggestion from my colleague Tim Wynne-Jones, we stayed in the perfect hotel: The Chateaux Versailles.
It was in a great location, just blocks from the Museum of Fine Arts where we stumbled onto a fantastic exhibit about the famous jazz trumpet player, Miles Davis.
And all up and down Sherbrooke Ave., there were “Art Mooses”:
Montreal is a very walkable city. We spent a large portion of one day strolling down the Canal de Lachine, starting at the Atwater Market, and ending up at the old wharves.
Everything was as green as could be.
Here I am walking in an alleyway between two buildings in the old port.
Here’s our live-action walking tour:
Oh how I loved Babar en Ville! The folks there were so nice…and they even had a copy of Keeper in the window.
I admit that for several years I’ve been intrigued by graffiti. Montreal has quite a bit of it, so I thought I’d share it with you: