Thoughts of Sam Larkin

October 31, 2013

A lot of people are walking around in
a daze saying Sam, gone? 

Really?

For two days I was hoping it was a joke.

Asked Bob. He said no joke. Dang, it
would have been a perfect Sam tricksterish
prank.

I hear Fats was jumping last night. Wish
I could have been there.

He means a lot. His songs
mean a lot. To a very special group
of people.

You would find a lot of them at Fat Albert’s,
a remarkable institution driven not by
fuel or money or clout or anything but
the love of song. (Thank you Ray and Ed
and Mary and Tony).

One of the strongest forces in life in North
America in the 20ieth and 21st Centuries
is Love of Song.

And Sam was a great lover of songs. So much
so that the ones he birthed were from a crazy deep
place. The place that everyone was reaching
for. And that tone he exuded caused a room
of people to sit up straight and listen every
time. Hey, there’s that sound I’m reaching
for. There’s that guitar strum I have been 
dreaming I could somehow someday nail.

And there was Sam, offering up some timeless
nuggets of gold from way down there.

And his way of playing them, total immersion.
He gave the impression of someone
who lived to play a beautiful song to a beautiful 
lover at 4 AM to tears of joy and thanks.

And for a while there, we could all be that
pretty girl, enraptured, appreciative, amazed—
rocked.

A lot of people don’t understand. They have
no idea what it means to be a Song Junkie.
And the strange fate of song junkies is that
they are hooked. They are dealing. They
are busted. They have cover behaviour for
the rest of the straight people in their lives.
But nothing matters. Nothing matters
but the song.

And there was Fat Albert’s a remarkably
durable institution for over for forty years.

I got to the party in about 1981.

Mirabeau Bridge was the unofficial anthem
of Fat Albert’s. So many cute young chicks
across the years caught the bug. As well
as sparkly eyed young guys with a guitar
strung across their back. They would ask
Sam to please play it again. I must have
heard him play it at least 100 times.

Like a lot of great songs it was half discovered
and half invented. Like Star Dust, a song about
a song…staring down into a well at a mysterious
place in the heart of everyone.

Well maybe that’s too grand. But then again,
maybe not. Maybe not at all too grand. 

Reflecting on a man’s spirit, when their body
is gone, all you see is their love, their passion,
who they really were. That’s the usual. Sometimes
it’s a belated revelation. With Sam? Forget about it.

He is always and only ever was exactly who 
he only always and ever was—the song fisher—
like Hemingway’s impeccable fisherman
in the Old Man and the Sea.

Who has not attended a funeral and asked the
question ringing in the air: “What is a 
man?” And in lots of cases an existential funk
wafts in the air like a stink. 

It will not be that way with Sam. Everybody will
know exactly who that man is and always was.

A song fisher extraordinaire. A mensch. A 
great encourager and celebrator of all
song makers.

There were two guys standing at the back of
Fat Albert’s several years ago. Both looked like
they had been living under a bridge. They were sharing
tales of woe. And one said amid the accounts
of many indignities suffered, “…but then I wrote
a song in November”, and that meant everything.

To us song junkies, you can take our house, take
our car, you know the rest. But forget the blue
suede shoes, let us write a song we love
and it’s a very good year.

Sam, as much or maybe more than anyone
stood as a great exemplar. He caught some
big ones. That’s a happy fulfilled life. A life well
lived and a song well sung.

And it bears mentioning that I know all this
without ever talking to Sam about it. He was
great for light banter with a benign accepting
smile. Emerson said who you are is screaming
so loud I can’t hear a word you are saying. 
Everybody knew exactly what Sam was saying
without him ever having to say a word.

If you’ve never heard Mirabeau Bridge, click on the link
and listen to Sam. 

Rumi says:

“Shut your mouth in this world
and open it in the world beyond.

In the nowhere air will be your song”.

I hear you, Sam. I hear you. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwYFrxm0esY
Image

Dancing in the creative fire

May 15, 2012

Dancing in the creative fire

Wake up Wake up Little Maggie…

July 20, 2009

Wake up Wake up Little Tommy, erm, I mean Maggie

So I’m making a record. Do people still say that?

I’m rounding up a few pals and going into the Rogue
next Monday, July 27 for a one day hot-off-the-floor
session just like Sonny Boy Williamson would do.
We’re working with Chris Banks on stand up bass
and Cleave Anderson on drums. Bob Wiseman
will be dropping in for a couple of tunes on piano
and Peter Hagele as well. And, Zoe Garnett might
lay down a vocal on the tune “Dark as a Dungeon”.

The repertoire for this set of songs is pretty heavy
on the folk, blue, roots and soul side…with a
heavy dollop of bluegrass. I have been into bluegrass
since the 70’s long before it was cool then uncool
and then cool again again.

The name of the record is “Little Maggie”. I’ll let
you know how it goes…

Tom at Free Times Café, Toronto, March 31 9 PM

March 27, 2009

Ah, my folk singin’ days.

Back in the 80s, I came back from a European
backpacking tour, walked into the Kensington
market, saw a new café just about to open,
walked in, and introduced myself to Noel Paolo,
the owner.

freetimesposter1

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Down and Out Then Back up Higher New Orleans

March 2, 2009

One evening in late 1980, my pal Jimmy Burke, just returned from
the oil rigs of Alberta, called and said, “Hey Tom, do you want to
go drinking? I have four thousand dollars!”
mardi-gras
Being young and enthusiastic — and, erm, thirsty! — of course I
said yes. After a night of many and varied bacchanalian ramblings
around the bars of downtown Montreal — culminating in four guys
crawling into a closet at 3:30 AM at the Hotel Lasalle and finding
a case of warm beer, a bunch of oranges and a pecan pie – Jim
and I decided to go to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Read the rest of this entry »

What the Moon Saw

February 23, 2009

Okay, so I was visiting a town called Stoupa just outside
Kardimili, Greece one year. It’s on the Peloponnesos, not
far from Kalamata, where all the best olives are born of
those craggy olive trees with the most improbable
silhouettes.

I was there at the behest of a lovely woman from Toronto by the
name of Beth who introduced me to her friend, the late Robert
Crisp.

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Which Virgin You Like?

December 11, 2008

There are two virgins of the song ‘Christmas Morning’ that you have
not heard. Someone I knew went gaga over the song and tried to
get some radio guy behind it. Apparently, all I had to do was change
a lyric and it was a done deal. Against my better judgment, I fudged
the lyric in a few places for them.

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Christmas Song and Bed Drive for 3rd World Kids

December 9, 2008

Gorgeous Gentle Reader:

Have I told you how I once walked the Peloponnese to raise
money for a Canadian charity called Sleeping Children Around
the World? I was looking for a feat of daring and endurance to take
on before a big change I was about to undertake… called marriage.

That was in August 1993.

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But Is You ‘Good in Bed’?

October 2, 2008

I can’t believe this one is not in several movies already. Maybe I
should check again. It’s called ‘Good in Bed‘. It’s a bit like the kind
of thing Dinah Washington used to sing. She had a very randy
song about her dentist who was seven feet tall and filled her
holes in just the right way.

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Break your heart….(I want to)

August 12, 2008

Gentle reader:

I love cruel songs. Don’t you?

I like indifferent songs…where
the singers says, “I am self sufficient”.

Read the rest of this entry »


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