A Matter of Life and Death

In a period of two weeks in the fall of 2006, I got with hit with a double whammy the likes of which I hope no one who may read this will ever have to experience. Let me take this one for team.

First, my wife, my sweetheart, my best friend and the mother of my children passed away at 49 years of age. Two weeks later, my long time employer closed shop leaving me without a career. While neither of these events was exactly unexpected, my life had seemed to be one that, if nothing else, was stable. I mean rock solid dependable. Jean’s last night at home, before her final brief hospital stay, was our 20th wedding anniversary. Tower was my employer for 26 years. That is stability! But suddenly, everything I knew I could rely on, for decades, was gone, all at once.

I guess the fact that I’d seen both of these events coming for quite some time made it a little easier to cope with. And much as I’d fought the impulse, and tried to always remain positive, to only imagine happy outcomes, I had had plenty of opportunity to envision what life was going to look like going forward. Of course, you can hypothesize all night and day, but until you’re in those shoes, you can’t really know what it’s gonna feel like.

I was fortunate, in one sense. I had a little bit of money. In retrospect, I don’t really know if this was a blessing or a curse, but either way, I decided that all I really wanted to do was play music. Acoustic music. I put my faithful ‘65 Strat on the wall and became absolutely glued to my cheap Taylor “Big Baby”. I played that hunk of wood and steel for 2, 3, 4 hours a day, every day. I’d sit in my yard and play and sing for the blades of grass. I loved the way they listened attentively, swayed back and forth, never talked while I was playing, never got up and left. Best audience ever! And I didn’t care who heard me or what I sounded like.

And I wrote. I wrote more than I’d ever written in my life. Songs positively flowed out of me. I was definitely writing faster than I could record.

Long story short, I eventually worked through the sad songs, the spiritual songs, the death songs. By mid-winter, I decided I wanted to try something I’d never done before – playing solo acoustic, just me and my little Taylor, in front of a human audience. It is a huge difference compared to 110 decibels of sounds coming out of you and your band mates, I’ll tell ya! On February 8, 2007, a week after my 50th birthday, in front of 30 or 40 friends, family and maybe even a few strangers, I got up onstage at a little café and poured it all out. Listening to the recording of that first night, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that, a) I played really, really fast, b) I made a ton of mistakes and c) I had a freakin’ blast! So much so that, over the course of the ensuing 8 or 9 months, I played close to 30 shows all up and down the West Coast of these United States, from Los Angeles to Modesto, Stockton, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland…

But I digress.

During this period, the darkness slowly started to lift. It wasn’t until I finally saw a few rays of light, light that eventually became bright sunshine, that I came to realize that I’d been in a tunnel. So it wasn’t gonna be dark all the time! It was just a tunnel.

And now, there were happy songs, positive songs, silly songs; songs of hope, songs with a future, songs of life.

Looking back at the songs I’d written over that period, I wanted to craft them into an album. That’s when I recognized that what I was working on, what I had written about, was quite literally a Matter of Life and Death.

Well… I never did finish that album. The songs are in various states of disrepair and, maybe, too much time has passed to dust them off, find that specific muse, and “finish” the album. But, in most cases, they’re no better or worse than anything else I’m publishing on bobwhitemusic.com, so here goes…

LA March 07 light

bobwhite – I’m Already Home
words and music by bobwhite ©2007

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