Putting Myself Back In That Place
Gary P. Nunn wrote “London Homesick Blues” in a frigid London flat. Shivering and numb, Nunn’s only companion was a beat-up old guitar. A few years later at the ramshackle, fly-by pants recording sessions that would turn into Jerry Jeff Walker’s legendary Viva Terlingua album, Nunn was called upon to sing that tune. Here he was in Luckenbach on one of those hot August nights we have in Texas where sweat and cold beer are the only relief to be found in an old dancehall, and he was being asked to play that song he’d written while stuck over in England. He famously says “I’m gonna try to put myself back in that place…” as the song begins on the recording. While he’s referring to the fact that it was the song’s second take because the engineers didn’t get the first one recorded properly. Nunn could’ve just as easily been referring to putting his mind back in London. Which is the thought I’m going for.
Music is a transformational experience. It takes you places. Brings you memories. Lifts spirits and drowns sorrows. It’s powerful.
June will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of one of the truest friends I’ve ever known. His name was Trinity Dove and we lost him when he was only 22. I was fresh out of college, he’d just finished his hitch in the Marines. We’d both ended up back in the town we thought we’d never return to, only to find Waco was a blackhole we couldn’t escape.
We thought we knew it all and had experienced so much. Our 22 was substantially more real and lived-in than Taylor Swift’s Target commercial dreamland 22…but we were just kids nonetheless. Cliches and Texas Music trademarks aside, George’s was our favorite place to go. We practically lived in there if it was after 5PM. I was holding down a desk job. My first real job. He was still trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life post military. This led to him pouring concrete with one of our best friend’s (Justin Dickey) dad. It was grueling work. But, true to his hoorah spirit, no matter how late we stayed out or how often we closed down George’s…he was up at 4AM to bust his tail all day under the hot Texas sun.
To get him up and going he’d jam music. Trinity was big into rock and hip-hop but through his friendship with me and Dickey he was subjected and exposed to all the Texas/Red Dirt hits of the day. Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Charlie Robison, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jack Ingram. Trinity particularly connected with Jack Ingram. His favorite Jack album was Jack’s latest release Electric which was released on June 4, 2002. Little did we know that Trinity wouldn’t make it much past the one year anniversary of the album’s release.
Each track on that record holds a special memory of Trinity. “Keep On Keepin’ On” was his mantra. “One Lie Away” distilled his mischievous prankster inclinations. “You Never Leave” was the soundtrack to a special part of Dickey’s graduation party none of us will ever forget. And, “Goodnight Moon” was our modern “Empty Glass”. It was our go-to for end of the night adieus.
The last time I saw Trinity was Thursday June 26, 2003. We met at George’s and pumped the jukebox with quarters. While the rest of us were pounding Big O’s down like 22 year olds are wont to do. Trinity refrained. Said he was tired. He stuck it out with us until last call then said he better get home. Trinity never made it home. He fell asleep at the wheel on a curvy Farm to Market road by his house that he’d driven hundreds of times.
I remember many vivid details about that night and the ensuing hours and they are too personal to share here. But, I do want to share that the last song we played on the jukebox that night at George’s was “Goodnight Moon”. One last time.
I can’t hear that song to this day without thinking of my old friend and having some tears meet my eyes. It’s been 10 years now and I still can’t hear that song without freezing, thinking of him and putting myself back in that place. That time. We were just kids. No matter how far away I get from June 26-27, 2003, I’m immediately transported back there each time I hear “Goodnight Moon”.
Music is powerful. In addition to the time travel qualities. It heals. “Goodnight Moon” has gone from a painful reminder to a joyous refrain. We played “George’s Bar” on repeat at his funeral as we remembered the good times. We’ll never forget the impact Trinity had on our lives. He’s around us constantly. In our hearts. Our memories. Our minds. Our songs. Our music. His songs. His music.
If you ever find yourself in a tough situation and you make your way out, don’t hesitate to put yourself back in that place as you navigate ahead. Let the music heal you. Thanks Jack. Thanks Trinity. I love you and miss you. Think I’ll go crank some Jack Ingram.