Last night, I saw Bryan Bowers perform. It was the first time I had seen him since sometime around 1975.  Back in those days, I was part of the Folk Music “scene” in Chicago and had the great fortune and pleasure of watching some of the greatest singer-songwriters perform over the span of 4-5 years.  Bryan Bowers was one of my favorites; so when I found out that he was performing just a half hour away from where I live, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to go see him.

The drive down the Toandos Peninsula to the little town of Coyle was, as it often is here, a meandering through thick forests. Driving at lower speeds through beautiful landscapes makes any drive pleasurable. In my mind, though, it’s always a little bit of a journey for me to hear or see performers that connect me with those times; there are a lot of melancholy memories from my very distant past. The snapshots of what used to be fly past like the branches of the trees. And, there are those that I knew so well who are no longer here, and I miss their friendships and their voices.

One of the songs that Bryan sang touched me very deeply on this very level. He introduced “Friend For Life” (lyrics and link to a live performance below) by talking about friends come and gone, and compared that to the life-long relationship with a song. So true. There are so many whom I thought would be near me forever and are nowhere to be found.

And yet

as I listened to him sing, I was filled with the warmth of the love I share with my dearest and longest-lasting friend of 56 years who, in fact, is the embodiment of Song. Every time I think of Cindy, I think of music; I hear her voice and I hear the clarity of the notes; I listen to her words and I hear the lyric of her soul.  Over the years, as I have felt time hanging heavy around me, she has been the one who has been with me, even as great distances have separated us. And now, as the nights are young and I feel my own oldness enfold me, it is her complete understanding of what was and what is now that fills my heart.  As I sing the songs that I have known and sung over the years, I always feel her singing with me.

So, here’s to the writers that give us the songs to sing, the singers who teach us how to sing them, and the ones who will sing with us even when we may not have the perfect pitch but will hear our voices just the same.

 

FRIEND FOR LIFE
(Bryan Bowers and Bob Danoffas)

When your Mom and Dad cross your mind,
Thinking back to the ties that bind.
Won’t fill your heart like singing some old song,
They used to sing back when you were young.

Chorus:
When you learn a song, you’ve got a friend for life,
That you can call on in the still of the night.
When you’re down and out, on a two-lane road,
Your friend the song will be there to ease your load,
Will be there to ease your load.

When time hangs heavy on your hands,
That novel that you burn your eyes out on,
Won’t fill your heart like learning some old song,
That will be there to help you later on. (Chorus)

When the night is young but you’re feeling old,
TV’s empty hours won’t fill your heart,
Like singing some old song that was your friend,
When you were young, and you are young again. (Chorus)

When your Mom and Dad cross your mind,
Thinking back to the ties that bind.
Won’t fill your heart like singing some old song,
They used to sing back when you were young.
When you learn a song, you’ve got a friend for life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZI36QfJMM0

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