Fifteen years my senior, born and raised in Monahans -- the same general west Texas vicinity as my own formative years -- he eventually made his way to Nashville where he set down residential and musical roots. There he labored away, a few steps away from the spotlight but hardly in obscurity. A musical craftsman, those who knew what they were doing with a guitar and a song recognized in him a songwriting depth and mastery that inspired respect and admiration -- even reverence.
His birth into my consciousness didn't occur until late 2010, midwifed by satellite radio's more eclectic playlist that included, one day, a cover of a Guy Clark song. As usual, though, I didn't know that until later. New to me, but instantly compelling, I googled the song as soon as I could get close to the technology and thusly learned of its provenance.
“He’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith.
Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”
Perched as I was at the time on the window ledge of my own vocational unsettledness, the song became for me a kind of fortifying anthem stoking the courage to jump. A few months later I had quit my job, we had bought an acreage and moved to the country to embark upon a journey -- a flight, really -- about which I knew absolutely nothing except that I had to be on it; a journey that took on the name “Taproot Garden.”
Now almost 5 years later, busily in the throes of sweating our way through the planting of cabbages and peppers and dozens of tomatoes, we are still, in the words of the song, “jumping off the garage, figuring what the heck” -- flying, like the song’s protagonist, because we don't know we can't.
I should have taken the time to write Guy to thank him for the inspiration. As with so many of the fruits of procrastination, it's too late for that now, though he probably would have been as puzzled by my gratitude as I would have been awkward in extending it.
But I am grateful -- for “The Cape”, for “Homegrown Tomatoes” ( a song that has become another theme song around here), for the memory of driving around Vermont in 2013 listening to his newly released and ultimately last album “My Favorite Picture of You,” and all those other pieces of musical craftsmanship I am still discovering.
So, thanks Guy. I didn't know you long and sad to say I haven't known you well, but somehow you managed to know me pretty well. Thanks for tying that flour sack cape around my neck with the string of words that in many ways changed and still nudges my life:
“Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.”
I’ll do my best.