Today I found out the Covid-19 claimed one of my favorite song writer singers, John Prine. John had that classic story tellers rasp that made his songs cut deep and find places in me that only his songs could do. The way I stumbled upon his music is just one example of how life brings you things at different times, and you don’t even know why. That whole period of my life was transitional and I was out having fun and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. I met my girlfriend at the time, a hair dresser from Hamburg, Janine, through a girl who lived in my building. I was renting half a house in the village of Hamburg and was in between roommates. We all played cards one night while draining Labatt Blue Lights, the preferred swill of the time. Janine and I hit it off and dated for a few months. It didn’t last long but it was fun. We traveled a little and spent our time together light and care free. We were both in weird places, I think.
The plan was to drive to Hammondsport for the weekend and hit up some wineries. We booked a cute little cottage that was close to town. Visitors were scarce and the only action we saw was coming from a local pub on the square. The bar was lined up with locals so we grabbed a small table by the action. I found a gap at the rail so I moved in to order. A minute later, I though I was caught in the middle of a local vs tourist episode that could have me at the bottom of well putting lotion on my skin. Turned out that I had eased my way into one of the local wives, spot at the bar. The couple and their friends totally fucked with me until Janine returned for the ladies room and saved me. The rest of the night was spent laughing and learning about our new found friends. As the bar was closing up the couple was trying to convince us to come up to their place on the hill and continue the party.
This is one of those pivot-able moments in your life when you turn right or left. Right turn, sends you home safe with a fun story and pleasant encounter with friendly strangers. Left sends you to a place where have no idea what could happen. AT age 24 or 25, I spun that wheel left and up the hill we went. The house was an old inn that sat on top of the hill like a watchman over the town. The couple welcomed us into their home and before long the laughing and dancing commenced. The large open room was fantastic. There was a long dining counter along the one wall. The kind you like you find at a greasy spoon. This particular version had to be from the late 1800’s and was original to the structure. Our hosts had spent 100’s of hours, I mean 100’s, hand sanding and refinishing this iconic piece of architecture.
He shuffle danced over to the “Hi-Fi” and asked if we had ever heard of John Prine. His disappointment was relieved only by the fact that he had his favorite track que’d up and ready to roll. The Sins of Memphisto. As soon as the track started his feet went into motion and his lady joined him as they swayed around the room. We laughed and enjoyed the evening with our new friends. We had listened to the complete albums: Missing Years and Common Sense. If you don’t own these, you need to.
I kept my promise to our new friends and bought 3-4 JP albums when I returned home. You know the kicker? I still can’t recall their names.