In the nights that I had some free time when living in a tiny apartment in the city center or needed to clear my head, I’d just go for a walk in town. It was fun enough and you’d see the occasional raccoon. In that time it was legal to busk up and down State Street. Folks would travel through from college town to college town and play guitar on the street just to make food and cigarette money.
In the course of my nocturnal walks, I came across a fellow named David that was playing. He was sort of rhythmically challenged, but he knew a lot of songs. He played “Would You Lay with Me in a Field of Stone”. He credited Tanya Tucker as the author. I spoke up from a group of a few and said “That song was written by David Allan Coe”…sort of echoing what was on the a-side of that release (You Never Even Call Me By My Name….John Prine and Steve Goodman). I suppose that was sort of egotistical, but as a child of Nashville and Muscle Shoals I felt it my duty to share my knowledge.
The man did not take umbrage. Rather the next week, he paused in his playing as I was passing by and said “You were right!” and asked if I would look after his guitar and loot while he went around the corner to take care of other business. I picked up his guitar and played a Guy Clark song and probably a John Prine song ( at that time, that was my entire repertoire). When David came back I had a few dollars extra for him.
That started a relationship that lasted a while. David lived out of the back of his truck and looked after his Mom on their old family farm. He gave me the motivation to explore my ability to perform in front of people, and I gave him somebody to trust if he needed to take a break. Several times, going out to dinner with friends from school, I’d stop and spell David, and that would freak out my rather staid schoolmates.
Never knew David that well, but he would lend me LP’s with his name scrawled on them. They were all worth listening to and obviously cherished items. He turned me on to a guitar player named Dan Crary, a really cool flatpicker.
I have never had stage fright since then; that is an obsolete response for me. I don’t play music for a living. But I still get a little hormonal hangover after the fact. Even after doing something like giving a public talk or teaching a class. Anyway, there is no fear beforehand, but after the fact it is like a dose of vodka and espresso.
Years later when I visited the same city center again, David was still playing on the streets. He greeted me as if I’d just been gone ten minutes. I had fun playing his guitar again.
It is good just to wander sometimes.