"I'M STILL HERE"
"I may of lost my lunchbox ....but I'm still here" ... John Hartford
I would STRONGLY SUGGEST for those who have not done so yet, that they read my page Remembering John & Marie Hartford first before trying to make too much sense out what follows here.
I promise you it won't take long to read and from the feedback I have recieved over the last two years it has been online, I think you will enjoy most of it ... make sure you read the last letter from John's daughter, Katie ... just click on the underlined link: Remembering John & Marie above ...... and you will be transported before you can say ...Yaa....hoo ( unless you have a Steam Powered Modem .... I swear Spooner you got more links on this page than there is in both the Jimmy Dean & George Jones Sausage Companys combined)
If you don't and proceed to read on, you might think not only has Spooner lost his lunchbox, he broke his thermos too! .....
I'M STILL HERE
It all started on June 8th of 2001 at the Hartford home on the Cumberland River in Madison, Tennessee... the services & memorial concert for John were over and many of us returned from the graveyard because Marie asked us to come back to the house to talk, reminisce or whatever you do at things like this ....that are unlike any thing else like this most of us had ever done at things like that or been to for that matter... unless you count in the one John & Marie had for Shel Silverstein two years before that ...... anyway you had to be there or at least read what I wrote about being there back in June of 2001 and then had to amend sixth months later ...... It's ok the rest of us will wait for you .... last chance before the new story starts............
FRIDAY June 8, 2001: I was talking with a small group of folks that included Dave Pomeroy and Jamie Hartford and telling them about how the last few times John and I saw each other, the words "I'm Still Here" had become a sort of code phrase with us. Dave told me he had been working with Jamie's band of late and they were planning to do a new album soon with a John song or two on it. With that Jamie said, "We have been doing that song for about six months now and I think we might record it on the album" I asked if he had ever heard the fourth verse of the song as it was recorded on Housing Project. ( one of John's first albums in the 1960's) For some reason John had seemed to drop that 4th verse for the last twenty years or so he performed it. On Gum Tree Canoe which he recorded about 1981, he scat sings the end along with his banjo licks. Jamie said something like "Yeah I seem to recall hearing that once or twice ....I think the reason he dropped it was it was kind of negative and I don't think I'll be adding it in"
Well I mentioned that I used to do all four verses of it prior to coming to Nashville and if he ever wanted the words to it to give me a call .......and that was that or so I thought....
OH ME OH MY HOW THE TIME DOES FLY
It was late fall of 2003 or might of been real early 2004 when my phone rang one afternoon ....
"Ken...Dave Pomeroy...hey listen man I'm in the studio with Jamie and we are cutting I'm Still Here...do you have that last verse handy?"
"Gee Dave I haven't done that song for 20 years, but give me a minute to listen to John do it again and see if I still have it right."
And with that I went up to the attic where our LP's are exiled away from the digital world, dug out the record, brought down the turntable, hooked it up an was soon listening to the Felton Jarvis' 1968 production of John's RCA Victor album "Housing Project" complete with a trumpet(Danny Davis?)on "I'm Still Here "
I called Dave back and gave him the words to the lost 4th verse .....
My cigarettes are gone and so's my money
So are all my nerves and all my teeth
My hairs fallin' out I'm gettin' skinny
And all my friends are either dead or on relief
But I'm Still Here .... I'm Still Here ( how about that? )
Jamie was right I thought .... that verse ain't exactly Sunshine On My Shoulder
"Thanks man we owe ya big time...you'll be in the credits"
'Cool Dave ..... I always wanted to be on a Hartford album'
and that was that again ....
I got wind of the Jamie Hartford Band's "STUFF THAT WORKS" CD release via a post CD release party article in the Tennessean last spring. It was around Easter I believe or Greek Easter which runs at a different time most of the time and we had company .... anyway I missed the show but made a mental note to go get a copy of Stuff That Works. I may of hesitated if only because of the title of an album I cut back in 1999 & 2000 called "The Stuff I Got Away With" but never released, only because in retrospect I didn't get away with everything I had hoped too. My main reason though was, I could really hear my illness in the vocal tracks and decided well maybe after I'm gone Anne might want to put it out ...but for now ... I'm Still Here.
It took a whole lot of work and effort from good friends only to have me stuff it on this project shelf, because I was having so much trouble with my hearing at the time especially pitch
Now that I have finally lost all hearing in my left ear I am working on replacing all my vocal tracks and plan to finally release it
Before you knew it was Summertime 2004 and I was busy planning for another trip north for my Knapp research and 40th High School reunion which took a bit of doing .... in the meantime to borrow a bit more wisdom from Cap'n John
ME OH MY, HOW THE TIME DOES FLY
This seems like a good place to pause before proceeding on to the .....
Before you click yer mouse there Felix ...... anyone need to use the bathroom? .....kitchen break ?? WELL THEN how about listening to the master songwriter himself render his version of his song off his Gum Tree Canoe album ? .....
This album introduced me to some more very influential cats I would meet 7 years later here in Music City ...Mark Holland, Jack Clement (actually re introduced as Jim Rooney told me about "Cowboy Clement" back in 1977) Rich Adler,and Roy Huskey Jr, the "Heartbeat Of America" who figures prominentally in the next chapter.
Nashville Cats : Starting at 12 O' Clock, John, Jack, Mark & Roy
Out on the Cumberland ..... Marie & John's "Front Lawn" ....
John wrote the note to "Reverand" Rich Adler who mixed the album
"Thank you for both your technical & spiritual assistance"