I have been cleaning out my old house and I came across a cassette of a rehearsal tape that Craig and I made for a funeral. Our friend and band mate John Lee had been killed in an automobile accident. John and I had actually played together a couple of years earlier for the funeral of one of his friends, so this was the second time I had played at a funeral. Ironically and sadly, it was his.
John was an amazing friend. I first met him at a church group meeting when I was in high school. He brought his classical guitar to the meeting. I had a guitar too, but I wasn’t very good. He taught me a lot of chords and songs. Eventually we started a band with Craig. John was kind, generous, and actively tried to help people around him who were struggling with coolness, self esteem, or other aspects of life. He made you feel important. He always seemed like he was the coolest one in the room, even though his jokes were quite silly and he was always self-deprecating. He had the driest sense of humor I have ever known. He was also extremely attractive to women for reasons none of us could discern.
John’s father wanted him to be a lawyer, but he just couldn’t take the law seriously, so he quit law school and started working for an insurance company. He couldn’t really take that seriously either, but he tried.
I don’t think Craig was too comfortable with playing at John’s funeral, but the family asked me and I had decided to do it. Craig decided to help me. The songs we chose were songs by James Taylor and Jackson Browne that we had played together a lot. John and I went to see Jackson Browne many times–at Ledbetters in Westwood and at McCabe’s in Santa Monica. We even saw him open for Laura Nyro at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in L.A.
The first song on the tape is an instrumental, a sort of slow march. I am not sure what it is called (it might be “Such as It Is,” since both Craig and I say that on the tape before we play it) or who wrote it.
This next song is “These Days” by Jackson Browne. I think we actually learned this from a cassette tape we made of Jackson at Ledbetters. When he arrived at the venue, we showed him our brand new Sony cassette recorder and asked him if we could tape his set. He treated us mock seriously and said, “That depends on who you are.” We said we were just kids who wanted to learn his guitar parts. He let us tape. I think this is one of the first songs Jackson Browne wrote.
The next song is “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. We were big fans. I probably learned this song from John. He was always figuring out songs from the record.
And finally, “Song for Adam,” also by Jackson Browne.
This tape was made at about 2:00 am the night before the funeral, sometime in the early 1980’s.