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PBPh Collins-02.jpg

(photo: Patrick Brayer)

Included below is a song I wrote in honor of my friend Ray Collins. As a musician with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention he was legendary. As a humble street personage around the college town of Claremont, California, a Mount Rushmore of Karl Marx, Moses, General Custer, and Santa Claus, he daily gave Birkenstock life lessons to us all, and to me will always stand as a benchmark in zen heroic non-materialism. “You are only as wealthy as you act”, he once told me.  The lyric sort of sketches my feelings and the frozen event in which I found him comatose in his Chevy Astro, in one of those herringbone parking spaces, directly in front of the Claremont City Library. It was amazing how he just seemed to be sitting serenely in perfect balance in the driver’s seat. Some uneaten fruit awaited on the dashboard as, like him, a humble posthumous feast. When I came afterwards to check on him at Pomona Hospital I brought him a statue of General Lee, in hopes to to make him laugh as soon as he regained consciousness. Although that wasn’t meant to be, I said a farewell to him and headed out to Alabama for Christmas. I sat to write the song on Christmas day there just after hearing the news of his death from my friend, and noted columnist, and Collins champion, David Allen, of The Daily Bulletin. When I arrived home we were Rayless. I’ve also include below a link to him singing “Anything” from the Ruben and the Jets LP, which I think establishes him without a doubt as one of the greatest white soul voices of his time.

 PBPh Ray Collins riding on Trigger 300d.jpg

A World Without Ray, Amen

Musty eggshell van / where simple parking is a chore

Spare tire for a roommate there / a palette on the floor

A last orange on the dashboard / symbolizes just about everything

Clean white shirt on a hanger / just like an angel wing

Bowed over in the driver’s side / in all the morning’s glory

In the shape of a scroll / of his own life’s story

A palm leaf beard / as if found in the snow

Oh to see what I saw / and to know what you know

When world without end is a world without a friend

In a world without Ray, amen

PBPh Collins-07 BW.jpg(photo: Patrick Brayer)

In a world where you can know someone / so well in recall

That it seems you might not even / know of them at all

In a world that’s getting harder / everyday to leave

We are left here ever softly / on this Christmas Eve

I’m afraid now to go / and turn my way to town

It’s like the flowers have, in betrayal / all gone to brown

Coming casually round the corner / who now today?

One after the other / just another non-Ray

When world without end is a world without a friend

In a world without Ray, amen

Purcell Brayer TRay Collins Rhino-2.jpg(hanging with actual adults outside of Rhino Records / photo William Purcell)

A cell phone open like a coma / on the passenger side

In the hull of a Chevy Astro / when the battery died

As if royalty and relaxation / had befriended us all

From a park bench in Claremont, to the Royal Albert Hall

150653_140550186098239_188607948_n.jpg(Ray pictured with his daughter)

The way you brought our daughter trinkets / with a reverence for all youth

Then the way you lost your own on an island / scares one colder than Duluth

As if royalty and relaxation / had no greater span at all

Than the view from your park bench, to the Royal Albert Hall

When world without end is a world without a friend

In a world without Ray, amen

Log chains of night / where darkened colors ran

To gently freckle starlight / out upon an empty van

Where royalty meets relaxation, his journey spans it all

From the heart of a park bench, to the Royal Albert Hall

Written by: Patrick Brayer / Christmas Day 2012