Well, as a complement for my mood I’m going to tell you about one the most heartbreaking songs there is. Live Forever by Billy Joe Shaver. The first time we saw Billy Joe was at the Main Street Pub in Wicker Park in Chicago—–before it was renamed the Double Door (although I belive it had been the Double Door in the past), 1992 or so….. Ernie and I had just done an outdoor antique show or flea market to be more honest…at Sandwich, Illinois. We were hot and tired and a bit sunburnt but Ernie was adament that we go to this show. I think tickets were something like $10. When we got there we realized they sure hadn’t sold many and I swear to God that most people sitting at the bar were missing limbs….I kid you not. There were a few tables and chairs so we grabbed one with our friend Eileen. There was kind of ragged older guy wearing a stained black t-shirt. One of our friends, Joe Losurdo, pointed him out as Billy Joe. He was accompanied by his son Eddie and Keith Christopher on bass. One of the most amazing shows I have ever attended. I remember sitting there drinking tumbler after tumbler of cheap white wine on ice and saying over and over, “I’ve never had this good a time, I’ve never had this good a time.” It was absolutely one of the most emotionally moving, musically intoxicating, life affirming shows I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of. I know that sounds a bit extreme but there is not an iota of exaggeration in there.
Between sets Billy Joe walked around and talked to the people there. Ernie asked him what the song that meant the most to him was and Billy Joe told him it was I’m Just an Old Lump of Coal. Ernie asked him if he would play Amtrak and Billy Joe told him he would be honored to. I’ve never heard him sing it again at a show, despite yelled requests, and I swear he truly did it becaue he appreciated us being there and we asked. I can’t even describe the emotions. It was an amazing thing to be part of. We’ve seen him numerous times since then but that show will always be my favorite…..first love, you know…..
Eddie Shaver had a forbidding mien but was as friendly as a puppy when we talked to him. Sweet, sweet boy. Well, I think he was my age, so not a boy. Sweet man. When I opened the Sun-Times in 2000 and saw that he had died of an overdose I almost broke down. Of course someone close to me had just gone through rehab so I was probably especially sensitive.
Anyway, this song can bring me to tears at the drop of a hat.