My late friend Jamie helped me form my most abiding musical prejudices right from the git go starting in 1969. I came to him with hat in hand. He would pull vinyl out of his collection and donate it to the cause. At school he’d chuck me and tell me had another cardboard box of promos ‘just in’ from Warner-Reprise or Columbia. That was invite enough to know what we would be doing after school.
What do my prejudices owe him? It is easy enough to itemize: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Little Feat, Ry Cooder, Frank Zappa, Alan Toussaint, Richard Thompson, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Jackson Browne, The Band, Geoff & Maria, Bobby Charles, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, The Grateful Dead, and the list goes on and on. Mike Nesmith! He gave me a copy of The Kink’s Lola vs The Moneygoround. We were among the few who would rise to defend The Kinks against the Beatles and the Stones.
Then, as years turned into decades, we sustained a discussion about the record business. Although I had no track record whatsoever, Jamie welcomed my half-baked ideas about artist development. This led to actual adventures. We both survived the damnable beast, although he liked to play with it and I preferred to keep it far away.
Later, as a supporter and mentor of musical artistry, Jamie found his natural niche. This made sense, and his devotion echoed a deep value we both held: everybody is some kind of artist. Jamie was a cosmic cowboy gardener and of course it was better with him there in the studio helping you hear and see how good it was going to be.
Jamie liked the name for the band that never was: Anthem’s Rest. After we graduated from high school, Jamie urged me to buy a pedal steel guitar. I did so. He had a good idea how he would put my playing to use too, ‘after we get through college.’ We spent hours talking about what the fantasy band would sound like. Unbeknownst to me at the time, imagining mastery could not compensate for putting in the long hours to actually achieve mastery. Oh well.
The thing is, I suspect his vision for my own future contribution was like his vision for the many musicians he inspired and never ever gave up on. His belief was unwarranted with respect to me and my Sho-Bud. Yet his belief, generosity, and positive vibe needed no warrant or rationale. It’s just the way he was.