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Story of the Song



I met Sam through our mutual friends, Hope and Lisa. He loved live music. Loved playing, watching—anything to do with music. I remember him saying every time he heard me play: You remind me of the sixties! He came to shows often when one or more of us performed and soon became a pillar in our circle of friends. Always a smile on his face and a beer in his hand, I miss him. A lot. 

"You gotta support your friends," he always said. 

He performed on a few of my albums and almost every project I've produced has had some reference to him. I've never called him out by name, though, until now. 

It's been several years since he died.

He was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer one November. His doctor told him that he had a few months to live. Hope and Lisa rescued him from the shithole nursing home where he had been placed to live out his last few months by his horrible relatives from Louisiana. Hope and Lisa found him a beautiful hospice house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Round Rock just North of Austin. There were only four rooms for tenants in a huge house with a wrap-around porch on stilts overlooking the greenbelt and facing the setting sun. A nurse was on duty twenty-four hours a day for the sole purpose of tending to the residents' comfort. If he wanted chocolate ice-cream at 2:00AM, they ran and got it for him. 

We visited often. And had jam sessions too. 

A week or so before he died he gave me two songs. They were absolutely filthy. I sat on his bed with him and wrote them down. He had been warned never to play those songs in public by a couple venues. I think he thought that I was the most likely in our group to perform them. He was right. I have been running around the country performing one of his songs for five years now. I think this would have tickled him. Hardly a week goes by without me thinking of Sam. How could I not?! That song is one memorable tune and I rehearse it every week. I think that he would approve of my tribute song—Dead Sam—about a dead man running around the country, belting out tunes and avoiding Death's sickle.

We were all there when he died. 

We had planned on meeting at Sam's at 6:00PM Saturday, but at 3:30PM or so, we got a call. 

"Get here quick. He's dying." 

We hustled and were there twenty minutes or so later. Doug played a gentle, but lively tune, on the acoustic guitar. We all put a hand on him. He could only move his eyebrow but it danced to the music and he was smiling.

"We're all here, Sam." 

And he faded away surrounded by people who loved him and live music. I hope that I am lucky enough to have such a send off. What a beautiful way to die. What a beautiful man was Sam.

Here's to ya Sam...Bottom's, hip hop, hooray, huzzah!


Dead Sam Lyrics

There was a dead man named Sam 
Who traveled across the land 
From sea to sea 
He'd shout and scream 
Wherever he went he said 

My name is Sam 
I'm a roving dead man 
A very dead man that's me …

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