Jack sitting in Dylan Thomas’ seat at The White Horse Tavern (photo:Patrick Brayer)
Below this nine-year sequel offering will be found the original eulogy piece I wrote for songwriter Jack Hardy in 2011, and below that, a collection of letters that I had written to him over the years, marking our friendship. I think they speak as a memoir of a point in time, and of his influence upon me. And I’m only one person. You can take this and multiply it by five hundred and get a more accurate view of his impact. I will add in a few facts that I had left out of the 2011 piece to flesh it out a little better. I’ve yet to see a definitive biography on this extraordinary gentleman. Perhaps this will inspire that dialogue.
Jack’s parents, Gordon and Lillian Hardy (wedding day). He was the spitting image of his dad.
Jack Studebaker Hardy was born in 1947 in South Bend, Indiana. His father, Gordon Hardy, a classical musician, served as dean of students at Julliard School of Music, later founding the prestigious Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. Jack’s mother, Lillian (Studebaker) Hardy, was a painter, and was a direct descendant of the famous Studebakers of The Studebaker Brothers Automobile Manufacturing empire. The Studebaker story started when John Mohler Studebaker (1833-1917) began making wheelbarrows for Gold Rush prospectors around Placerville California. It was there that he gained the notorious nickname that followed him through life, Wheelbarrow Johnny. He moved east in 1852 and with his four brothers opened the first Studebaker factory. They began creating wagons, buggies, and horse drawn carriages, one of which was used to drive President Lincoln into the sights of John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre. The Studebaker Company endured a lot a fads spanning over a hundred years, but ultimately became defunct in 1967. In one of the songs that I created at Jack Hardy’s farm in Callicoon, which I wrote on his well-thumped 1947 Gibson Jumbo, titled Eve and Adam They got Married, I elude to, as a nod, to “an apple core on the floorboard of a Studebaker Hawk”, one of the most beautiful cars ever dreamt.
Jack Hardy with Wheel Barrel Johnny, Callicoon New York (photo: Patrick Brayer)
I remember when one-night Jack took me out to have dinner with his parents, who lived on Park Avenue. I think that the family fortune was dwindling some, but everyone lived well. I never asked Jack where he got his money, and could sort of sense that his parents were a little disenchanted at their son becoming a socialist-bent folk singer, and not a classical pianist, or at least stoic. Speaking of pianos, as we were having our dinner, over the frail tinkling of the china, I heard a weeping piano in the distance. When I asked what that was about, I was informed that that was just movie actress Sigourney Weaver next door practicing. I was in good company, but I couldn’t wait to take off my imaginary top hat and tails and get back to Jack’s bohemian railroad walk-up flat on Houston Street. Whatever money Jack did have he put directly, in Robin Hood fashion, into his belief in grassroot community. What his family perhaps failed to take stock in was that in his own way Jack had more of the ‘larger than life’ spirit of Wheelbarrow Johnny than any of them. He had a brother, Jeff Hardy, who followed him along on his musical journey, but tragically passed in the 9/11 terrorist attack bombing, serving as a chef in the Twin Towers. Many believe that he, understandingly, never quite bounced back from that loss.
Jack Hardy at St. Peter’s Cathedral (photo: Patrick Brayer)
At the time of our meeting in 1994 he was working at producing Fast Folk Magazine, a monthly CD and magazine dedicated to unknown songwriters. He was one of the founding members in 1982. Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Lyle Lovett, and Dan Bern were but a few that got their start thanks to Jack Hardy. Not to mention the hundreds of other songsmiths that he coaxed up to a world class level, all while putting his own music on the back burner. I was at the time producing a nomadic concert venue of my own called The Starvation Café around my hometown of Fontana, California. I sent him a cassette tape of my Volume Nine of, The Secret Hits of Patrick Brayer, titled, Catholic and Western Fabuli. Which, now that I think of it, reminds me of probably why he took me to St. Peter’s Cathedral when I visited. My love for iconography being part humor, part therapy as a Catholic School survivor. He later told me how he was walking by in his office at Fast Folk when he looked down into the yawn of a wastepaper basket and saw my CD. I’m now glad that I used florescent green paper stock and a Mexican woodcut. He pulled it out and liked it, and there began the start of our friendship.
As was my habit, in my self-education and developing stages, I always like to hang out with those I felt were much better at aspects of what I was pointing myself at. And that was Jack. He did what you did, but he pushed it straight to the top. And so, with a wave of his wand I was unglued from my cross-country couch. When I was younger, I always had the habit of sporting a big colossal friend who could protect me, as I was the Barney Fife of all kids. Protectors like Nick Picolli, Rodney Beck, and Mike Murr, some of whom have served time, and one later having his name monogramed on a homicide. But at some point, when I was deemed too apostle-looking for the baseball team, I exchanged brute strength for creative intellect. So, in the course of my career I’ve sought advice and friendship from a number of kind geniuses, such as Hardy, Chris Darrow, Michael Hedges, David Lindley, Ben Harper Stuart Duncan, Alison Krauss, Bryan Bowers, Pat Cloud, John York, and Darol Anger. I must thank my music for drawing these people into my life. Just they alone on a playlist might tell a concise history of the hammered-out shape of modern acoustic music. On that same note, I’m thankful and probably don’t’ know it, for how many awful influences I have driven away with my over the top psychedelic (Da Vinci Code) country and western ‘what have you’. All of these good people I mentioned before, some Carnegie Hall alumni, along with Jack Hardy, are prime examples of the human kindness bestowed upon me over the years, even in my deepest anxiety filled periods, reclusive with bouts of worthiness gayly unraveling, with what’s left of my confidence hoping to someday at least be a jovial campfire story. It assured me, once and for all, that life was indeed a dance whose steps described a circle. I could call any of these people on the phone anytime I wished, but I usually would not, and could not get beyond my own fears. Each one of them with talents that cower over us (once again the colossus) from the tippy top of their genres, but always, I think in understanding my handicap, finding time to call me, awakening me from a gossamer of societal sleep, to which only then did I feel I could reply. I think even in my worst bouts, my self-worth being an erstwhile charcoal shadow in debate with alley-light, with a husky whisper, “wanna’ buy a watch”, I felt I might well have served as what every balanced genius needs, a mortal buddy. Influence is what gets one up in the morning. The fact of the matter is, it is the product of duality that shows me I’ve been just as much influenced by Jerry Lewis, as Jerry Lee Lewis. You’ve got to consider both, a tornado making a pratfall through Ferriday, Louisiana. Put them both in the blender and get one powerful trickster, not the advent of rock and roll, nor a bruised sunset of physical comedy. What we all have in common is that when we create, the world as blinders drops away. Even while writing about, or questioning the world, we are secretly told, there is no world. And to be conscious, and know there is no world, we are only left with its residue, relaxation.
Jack’s the one with the real wine glass.
While visiting Hardy’s farm in Callicoon I wrote several songs on his tobacco road sunburst Hank Williams guitar. He had these songwriter meetings every Monday back at his flat on Houston Street. They had already been going on regularly for twenty-some years when I was there. The rule was, you had to bring a song that you had just written. There you would share it, and then open the floor up to discussion. It felt so grown up, but I still couldn’t help but feel that a toga clad Socrates was to blame somehow. Back where I came from, we never did anything like that. They were discussing, meter, narrative style, and perspective in ways I had never heard articulated. Well, it came to my turn and I played the new one, Tonight the Rice Let Me Down, which was a marriage narrative as dark as the trunk of Tennessee William’s car. Probably a play on Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down, by Merle Haggard, with an eye wink and a nod. When I finished the room was frozen, you could skate on the silence, nobody could think of anything to say, and they quickly moved on to the next writer. It was then that I re-realized I was from Fontana, and grew up on an egg ranch, in isolation, and perhaps had wash-rocks for brains. Everyone was nothing but kind to me, and they weren’t being mean, they were just stumped. But they still included me in everything, because the community was unconditional, and bigger than anything else. Although their music was entirely different from mine, it was still refreshing and new to me. That’s when I finally realized that my art had a unique regional sound of its own, and influences of its own making. Theirs was more Celtic in background, dowsed in the Child Ballads, where mine was more Buck Owens meets John Steinbeck meeting Shecky Green. The Hank Williams guitar, which Jack acquired in Nashville, was at one point loaned to one of his songwriting disciples, Tim Robinson, for some ten years. It can be heard on a lot of Tim’s early recordings, Hardy taking it back about the time he did his album, Bandolier, which was in his eyes “a country music album”. As well as being an established songwriter, Tim is also a world-class painter and graphic artist, with works published in The Nation, and The New York Times. So, Hardy was a magical person on a lot of fronts. One being that if you just followed him around you would meet all the right people for yourself. He didn’t just make thing happen for you, he made things happen to you. So, let us let Jack remind us that we all have secrets that we haven’t even opened yet. And that, right there, is why we must write.
Written by Patrick Brayer Ontario, CA 2020
Tom Waits, Jack Hardy. and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
John Studebaker “Jack” Hardy (1947-2011) Eulogy Piece
Written by: Patrick Brayer / 2011
What comes to mind first when I think of Jack Hardy is “original song”, which is not, as it is often mistaken for, an ‘original sin’ that you can tap your foot to. It is often mistakenly thought that if you wrote the song that it is an “original song”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you pen a song that is no different than any other, then it is not original, it is a fraud. Jack Hardy showed us a major lesson when he gazed beyond our fraudulent works, not in dismay, but as if he saw the true thing hovering behind, puppet like, in waxen shadow. We had just brought the wrong thing frontstage. But like all other magic acts the masters make it look easy. That spoken, I found Jack Hardy to be sweetly, and dangerously original, so to, to the detriment of his own deserved acclaim. I and hundreds of others have benefited grandly from his generosity. When I was penniless and nameless, on the merits of a bedroom labored cassette tape, he flew me, raw boned and blowzy, from my tumbleweed steel town digs in Fontana, California, and plopped me down on the time-honored stage of The Bottom Line in New York City. It was there and then that I took my place amidst a bevy of real bona fide songscribes, and now I’m proud to say, after what seemed like a dream, the Smithsonian Institute is now grappling with the residue of those tin-horn performances. Hardy was a perfect representation of himself. What came so easy to him brought out the compassion to help others, and he kept that up until the day he died. Ultimately Jack Hardy owned a unique style of community that he purposely allowed to overshadow his craft as songsmith.
He could kick your ass at songwriting, and he could then hang you out to dry if you though to yourself, maybe more creatively than your song, that you might be more compassionate. The sound of his voice, which of course haunts us a little bit now, was most often that of heart-torn crooning, sometimes like a character actor from an RKO film noir, and yet other times even like Winnie the Pooh picking up gravel with a steam shovel.
Jack Hardy’s Barn (painting: Tim Robinson)
On one of my two visits out (1995-’6), Jack and myself set out to walk the entire island of Manhattan on what we liked to call our ‘ghetto and pub crawl’, and ending up finally in the glitz and supposed glamour. I took a photo of him (above) in The White Horse Tavern sitting in the very seat that Dylan Thomas often frequented. It could not be more apropos, and I could not have been more honored when they used it on the back of his “Omen” CD. On our off day he took me to his farm in the Catskills, where when him and his kids slept, I penned a song called Eve and Adam They Got Married, there on a guitar that once belonged to Hank Williams (who died on the day I was born). I sang it that week at the song meeting at his Houston Street flat. Being unaccustomed to community, I pleaded to the small gathering that it was o.k. to comment, but that if I start crying, to please stop. As I was walking out to get a bagel the next morning with Jack’s then mate, Wendy Beckerman, I spotted and purchased a thread embroidered painting of St. Clair from a disgruntled guy selling junk curbside. It was only many years later that I saw that he had mentioned in print that it was to be the influence in the writing of his song St. Clair (Later recorded by both Hardy, and Suzanne Vega). So needless to say, that was the best three dollars I ever spent.
St. Clair thread painting in Hardy’s flat
In closing I’d like to say that I like to think that life is perfect, and that everyone leaves only when they’ve delivered what it was that they were meant to deliver on earth. If Jack left at the perfect time, and was not, as seems, cut short, it is now our job on earth to try and figure out how that could possibly be. I don’t believe in anything, but I still see Jack and his brother somewhere clinking a couple tankards of Guinness’ together like church bells with wicked smiles, that is until Wheelbarrow Johnny (pictured above) walks up and lectures them timelessly about a life of Studebaker practicality.
Letters to Hardy
Jack Hardy, (Brayer/Hardy 03-19-94)
I was laid up in bed when I received your inspiration package. I am finally crawling out from the covers. I look behind me and actually see the fossil of myself in the sheets in the shape of whatever position it is that one hacks-up in. I loved your version of my Three Kinds of News from the Bottom Line. It’s strange how it works. I never really knew what the song was about until I heard you do it. The Stratocaster guitar work I felt brought it into the laps of a whole new audience, and the angel singing coming from behind assured everyone that you guys weren’t friggin’ around. I hope it can make the cut and, thanks to you, some of my material will stop living at home with it’s father, and will open up a courageous little surfboard shop in the minds of some New (old) Yorkers.
Thanks for the CD’s also. I enjoyed the cassette you sent me before, but I couldn’t believe the difference with the quality of the CD. It sounded like an entirely different project. I always dug the dobro, so it has the great ear-healing tone in all corners. I just found the high falls edition of Fast Folk down at the radio station. I really connected with Gerald Bair, and will proceed to play the living tar out of that cut (Bleecker Street).
You had mentioned something about the possibility of playing some festivals out your way. I would love to make the pilgrimage sometime. I am flat broke at the moment and just finished a song about a sandwich for lunch. My tape machines are in pawn and the shell of my Ford Courier is full of wasps. This is not just a boo-hoo melt down. For whatever the deal is, it’s my deal. If you and a hand full of people dig my stuff, then that’s who I’ll share with. I would be glad to come out if the jobs would be able to cover my mobilization, and that somebody would just make sure I don’t die while I’m there.
Anyway, I’m happy to see that you seem to be on the top of your deal right now. That in itself is usable inspiration to crawl out of bed to.
The best to you my friend.
The Hank Williams Guitar
Jak Hardi, (Brayer/Hardy 12-08-94)
I just finished a letter to Wendy and I’m not sure if I’m talented enough to write two letters. But like my old grandfather said when he wasn’t busy slaughtering a pig, “to get an envelope you’ve got to push an envelope”. He was just a simple man, making rice soup and spitting in a can, so that’s the most NASA-like thing he’d ever said. He died in the 60’s and then the fire department came over to burn his house down for fun, and I sit here now (bet you were wondering if I was gonna ever catch up with the present) and smell his son in the next room. I’m really getting into the sword album. I love the live sound and how it actually documents the fact that you are a hipster of hipsters. A Way, is quite a masterpiece. The wind is blowing the trains right off the tracks, but I just couldn’t wait to plant my garden. I was transplanting the lettuce seedlings and had dirt on my knees and everything. But as I was walking into the house, I could swear I heard one of the plants mumble under it’s breath, “couldn’t ya wait until the wind let up, ya friggin’ hippie”. So much for The Secret Life of Plants. What if we did make a device that could translate plant language, just to find out that they were really vulgar and rude. As you can see that a lot of thought went into the choice of the proper graphic for both of you. I realize we are just a tad behind here in Fontucky, but it’s tradition to give a man a picture of naked Laotian girls on green paper, and the women receive a nice guy in his underwear nailed to a cross. I could fight tradition, but when you do they just come over and kick your ass and take your cactus. I hope that your family issues have stopped teeter-tottering, and that the fact that everything is exactly as it is supposed to be, is not going to be a problem for you.
It means a great deal to me that someone with your caliber of understanding actually goes to the measure that you do to show me that I’m in fact a visible feature of this web of song holding the continent to its tether. Keep in touch and have just the holiday you can stand, and no more.
Dear Mr. Jack (Brayer-Hardy 12-27-94)
Just completed my “more Brayer than ever” supplement. Birds are cawing, helicopters are whipping the sky into cake batter, and my father is most likely levitating above sports radio down the hall. I appreciate your efforts to get me out to the Big Scrapple in January. I made $70 last month selling a painting of a Cajun to someone that thought it was a clown. Needless to say, I apply the “hard love” approach when confronting my orphanage of a song strata. They must learn to pay their own way, even if conceived from a sultry one-night-stand. It’s an old-fashioned idea perhaps, but it’s not unlike going to someone’s home. I shared the song with you, that was the knock at the door. You looked through the peephole to see if you wanted to answer. Then even if you do answer, you then have to decide whether or not to invite me in. I always believed, even in an unbelievable world, that you don’t go anywhere without an invitation. So, when a door such as this opens, I will always go through it. It seems more my style to go through the door, than to bust through the wall, which I’m afraid might be the present School. I’m just getting hip to the financial level that one has to be on now (which is way above mine) to be a pauper folk singer. These days I stumble across more and more performers who have to take out loans to go on tour (ouch). I’ll be forty-one in a couple of seconds, and we’ll see if I don’t completely flip and write only tampon commercials from now on in. Whatever I might have just said, I think it just meant “thanks”. Since you called, I’ve had a few calls for grunt jobs, so I’ll need to know as soon as possible dates of departure and return. I’m willing to stay as long as it makes sense to you, as this venture is of top priority. I’d almost always rather be playing my own ‘foot and pony’ act and breaking even, than running sound for Dave Alvin and Ralph Stanley. But if I’m here and that’s the only offer I got, then I will take it for money to buy me more DAT tape and papal icons. So, enjoy these tunes and let me know how they work in the cold weather. Hello to Wendy. I wanted to send you guys pictures I took of yuns, but I left them at my friend from Iran’s house. Long story short, they are now in Morocco and are before an altar of whirling natives worshipping the two folk singers from New York, before a Fontana cacti.
until the very next until. Your friend,
Dave Van Ronk and Jack Hardy
Dearest Jack Hardy, (Brayer/Hardy 05-30-95)
All is all, and we sometimes get all alled-out in the face of indentured service. There, I feel better now that I got the advice portion of our letter out of the way right away. New York seems like a dream now, and none of my friends believe I really went there. They just think that I got really drunk and stole the Chevy Caprice, and ventured upon Barstow and met a wayfaring waitress, and got married to her and her daughter separately for a week apiece. They really hit me with beer cans when I told them that beautiful women bath in the kitchen while you tune their guitars. Well I’m homith now and writith the songs that makes the whole world fudge oriented. Today the sun is really blasting the weeds, and the women are all gussied with the latest sensation, powdered carnitas face make up. Spring has put little halos around the cactus flowers and the young girls at my printers have burnt their noses at the river on their bosses’ boat I had to tell them the story of my own self being thrown into a jail in Needles in the early 70’s. I drank a gallon of wine with a lady in a ratty rabbit fur coat in a pastel trailer court. Imprisoned for sleeping in the middle of the highway. In my opinion I think they should give you an award for that, hey that’s not easy. And it cost three dollars in wine to boot. They made my sister and my late brother in-law Kenny come down and retrieve me, Pat Brayer, on accounts of I was underage. The next day my friends had a hard time finding me, fearing I was swept down the evil forsaken river. They got some Hell’s Angel types to help and began to dredge the river for a then young body like mine. I appeared at school the next week, arms extended crusifily, freshly back from the dead, my white cowboy shirt illuminated in the very sun that had burned those young girl’s noses in the print shop, and mine. So, the moral is that we are all connected by burn noses, and none of that genealogical bullshit really means a hunkering squat.
Anyway, I hope that you and Wendy are as happy as I can imagine, and that the cats, and all the bills from being folk singers that you have in your lap, are light, and that all the bricks in New York swarm in your direction. I hope you enjoy my latest little offering. Someone gives you a computer and all your friends have to pay. Please give a copy of 13 to my pal Tim Robinson and tell him thanks for acting alive in my dead sea scroll of a career. Oh yeah, I told all my friends that I threw Harvey Kytell through a plate glass window. Please back me up on that one, OK? Until until…..
Patrick of Pinedalia
Jack Hardy vistis Fontana, California (photo:Patrick Brayer)
Wendus and Jakio, (Brayer/Hardy 10-21-95)
I’m just arriving home from garage sailing. I met some people with old wallpaper, and a basset hound they got in the mail. At another I met a skinny blonde in a lawn chair that you could easily call Natasha I didn’t need an old iron bed that didn’t even look like it was big enough for her and I, but I looked pretty cool reflected in her super spy sunglasses. If my eyes were glassy enough you could see the fog settling on her black nylons. I bought nothing there on Locust Street, but over on Cypress I scored and old “bridge bingo” board game from the fifties, and a withered P.E. t-shirt from Fontana High (Fohi), with the head of a hard-hatted steeler-man as big as shite. As I go along, I bring my camera, and capture the side of Fontana that you never can quite get out from under your nails. I captured the “Fontana Royal” apartments across from the aforementioned Fohi, and the “Rancho La Fon trailer park up on Route 66 (I think we should be the ones to come out with the new version of, “get you kicks on Route 666”.
Thanks for letting me Brayerize in a slightly used York. It was exhilarating to have people laugh at what you are trying to say, and then applaud like seals on their first hit of crystal meth. But in whiplash fashion, the next thing I know I’m playing a free concert in a condemned building in Pasadena called, The Labor Temple. For two hours I sizzled over fifteen heads, with rosary beads around my neck. After suffering from a debilitating depression for three days I came up with a new philosophy. “People who do concerts are whores”. “You should only play for your friends, for it would be ludicrous to sing for people you don’t even know.” “They can buy my tapes if they like, and get as excited, or confused as they want, on their own time.” This new movement has caused quite a stir in the media’s eyes. When questioned by Ted Copel he asked “does that mean that you don’t like James Brown and buzz Busby? To which I replied, “I never said I didn’t like whores, actually I like them very much, all I said was the I wasn’t a whore”. Then I continued, “The problem with you guys Mr. Copel, is that you assume when someone says something that they are dictating some holy personal squat, and a holy man is never in the position to put even Hitler down”. Later on Mr. Copel loosened up and we smoke some pot in the back of his limo. I had a great game of chess with his toupee-weaver while we spun broadies on the near vacant Kaiser Steel yard. Then I was bragging to my friend about possibly going to York again, to which they replied, “ I thought you didn’t do concerts?” To which I replied, “Oh yeah….” Jack this puts me in a sticky situation, I would still like to come out, only to save face I have to change my name to “Powder Himalaya”. Is that going to be problematic?
I miss the shear reality of you guys, and I hope this finds you in good health and in nothing short of casbah livng. I hope you enjoy the Thorn Colored Town to the best of it’s abilities.
One weeps save not when one is afraid, and that is why kings are tyrants.
Marquis De Sade
jack, (Brayer/Hardy 06-18-96)
Sittin’ and writin’ and listening to Clara Rockmore play the theremin. Like the first bee to ever sing opera. Which makes it hard to concentrate on your new tape, which I was writing to thank you for, and to tell you that I enjoyed it, and feel you really nailed it to the old cross this time again. All the songs seem equally crafted. These are the five that jumped up at me: Halloween / 20th / Your Heart Once / Crying . I would have put these tunes up front and the Irish Jack peppered in later. I really love the Irish guy, but he’s a past life guy and deserves a more historic sequencing. The ‘Halloween’ Jack, that’s the jack I see when I see. A guy that can be cantankerous, and with the same sweeping gesture, make a chocolate chip pancake. I’m happy for the fact that the vision is so strong with you at the present. The funny part of our program is that: when I got your tape the hand scripting on the jay card was pretty bad, and I couldn’t make it out. I kept wondering why Jack Hardy would call his new album “The Panties”. Then I thought ‘this friggin’ guy is a marketing genius guru.
Tell Denise to quit sendin’ me tapes of women with yellow / purple hair. Tell Richard Meyer to quit sendin’ me pictures of Christ in a business suit, and virgin mothers with UFO’s under their arms. Tell your cats ‘the two frontiers’ to quit faxing their cat box to my house. And my phone bill for all the hours of phone sex calls that I made to the woman that lives above The Fast Folk Cafe”. You owe me big. Hell, folk music owes me big. I think if folk music just sent me a free set of strings we’d be about even for my 25 friggin’ year contribution. Even a little slice of the fame would be good. It doesn’t have to be huge. Maybe just a little spot over in the section where William Shatner (star trek, jack: it’s a friggin’ TV show, that’s what it is, oh skip it!) where William Shatner is reinterpreting Appalachian Eskimo birthing sounds, with a banjo in the room, not played, but still too l oud. You see just the sheer force of the birthing grunts will bring out these really ethereal harmonic choirs. I was only kidding about the quit sendin’ part. I love all that warped input. Don’t think that I don’t have that 3-d ‘Christ lugging the cross’ post card that you sent me from Villingen-Schwenningen on an alter in my bathroom, flanked by the ‘1948 Donut Queen’, Gene Vincent with a broken foot, and three all so correctly placed topless girl matchbook covers. And all this right next to the famous Courtney Love quote “I don’t care if people think I’m exploiting my child”.
I haven’t decided whether to put a tape in or what it should be, but if the tape doesn’t get in, please enjoy not gettin’ it as much as you do when you get it, and then you will always be happy. It’s that simple. And then amazingly, you stop listening to what people are saying, and start listening to the reason they are saying it. That’s that little step ahead vibe that I feel people have when they succeed. And we all know that when you look up the word ‘success’ in the dictionary, there is a picture of Jack and Pat. I can remember fondly that day that we posed for that picture. I would hate to have our only picture together be the one in the dictionary, so next time I’m out let’s make a new one. This legacy business is exhausting. be as kind to yourself as you are to others, and us on the other coast will not worry. Please punch Wendy in the arm for me while she’s taking a real hot bath. until until….
patrick of brayertown
church teeth music
Jackio Harday (Brayer/Hardy 11-28-1999)
I haven’t bothered you in this font in a long time. Every time I see a Studebaker I look inside to see if there’s a woman bathing. I keep up with your progress in magazines that I read for free down at the book store. I heard you were out in California one night whenst i was out playing with John York of The Byrds. Next time try to steal away to my new digs in Upland California (about 20 miles west of fontuna). We (my new bride and myself) would love to see, hear and confuse you in person. Not a shit load of newness here except in song. I’m on volume 33. I noticed your birthday on my calendar and really miss the idea of you, other than the idea of you that is a great pillar to all that I think I am. I just got done throwing the I-Ching to, for the first time, communicate with my father Ralph William Brayer, who passed away on August 19, 1999. If you’re interested and you have e-mailious maximus I will send you the results for your amuslement. The gist of the inquiry was (hexagram 17) thunder rests in the marsh. My father was born in Marshfield Wisconsin in the evening the superior man goes home to rest. The 29th of November represents the 2nd anniversary of the death of Michael Hedges. According to one of his favorite books, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, when one dies it is best if one die quick and that no one see the body for three days. Which is what happened in both the case of Hedges and my father. Still no support for my music, but I’m happy just the same deep in the process of doing a belly flop into a diction of words. Went to The Tonight Show the other day to visit my friend who was playing with Dolly Parton. It’s strange to one day look in the mirror and you’re standing beside someone who has their own world, and the next day eating toast, a nobody, feeling guilty for wanting to make out with a woman that looks like a 60-year-old wedding cake. Oh well. Finally got the CD of us at The Bottom Line in 96. I’d like to get the parts that were edited out some time if’n you gottum’. I’d like to hear the duet with Catie Curtis that I did of, When Your Alter Has Fallen. I hope the Smithsonian thing will be a good move for you and not just fossilize your creations for science. Got together with my brother for thanksgiving. Had cognac, and turkey, and stigmata colored cranberries, blew smoke rings, and listened to ‘oldies but shities’ on the turntable. I’m sure you were probably over in Park Avenue giving Sigourney Weaver a piano lesson through the wall. Well I gotta’ get going. Just a note in hopes that your healthy, wealthy and still wise. Your pal from the zest coast…..
Patrick John “Jack” Brayer
Nov. 28,1999 Upland, Ca
Dear Mr. Hard Day, (Brayer/Hardy 03-23-00)
Got the omen. And it was an omen that it’s never too late to make the best album of your life. Congratulations. I’m sitting in my little craftsman studio held up by the lapels by a cup of coffee in a Mustang Ranch cup. Looking out the window through a glass slide that my mother in-law sent me of two guys picking pecans with long poles up in the San Joaquin Valley. It was probably you and me in another life. I’m still writing the so long songs that make earwax confusion to the poor. I just can’t stop listening to, I Ought to Know. I don’t know what to study about it, so I just listen to it again and again. I think it’s perfect, it has wit, humor, depth and ‘across the boards’ accessibility. If I could put in words exactly what it is I would give the formula to all songwriters and retire on the profits of that and my icon and ashtray collection. Though I find charm in all your recordings weather mattresses are stacked against the walls in tenement flats, or Allan Lomax is taking a bath with young girls with chestnut hair in the kitchen. I think this is your best tone production (you and this band really seem to see eye to eye) and your phrasing abilities are growing when I thought they were already fine. The sepia jack photo really brings back memories of trekking the length of Manhattan like it was the Oregon Trail, and writing, Adam and Eve They Got Married, on Hank William’s guitar (I was born on the day he died). I still don’t know why you play down the Studebaker angle of your persona. I purely see the ingenious blood of Wheel Barrel Johnnie in everything you do. You move different things around than he did, but with the same higher spirit. Maybe that bothers your parents, that you got the whole deal incarnate, and they thought it was going to be as simple as a zerox. Sorry, here I go channeling again.
Anyway, all is well here. I hope someday you can meet my lovely bride. I think I sent you the Sinna/Songwruten CD on Aim, did you get it? I’m on volume 34 of the secreted hits. Am recording a local poet and professor at Pomona College. So far about 8 hour’s worth, I’ll have to share some of that with ya in da futuristic future. How’s da womens? I hope they’re dusting you with kisses like there’re supposed to and creeping in and out of your songs.
Thanks again for the fine work, and allowing me to play a humble part. I appreciate your kindness and I find comfort in the fact that you excel in everything that I struggle at, and at times the thought of that strangely holds me up. Once again I think I’m just channeling what probably a great deal of people want to tell you, so there you go. until, until
PATRICK OF BRAYERTOWN
UPLAND, CA 3-23-00
Jackee, (Brayer/Hardy 04-26-00)
It’s Brayer from the left of the country. Saw this ashtray today and thought of you. How many compliments of that nature have you gotten recently? Just thumbing through my records and I don’t remember if I ever sent you a copy of the song I wrote the day before the 9-11 tragedy. One which i was recording as I watched the towers fall live on TV on that fateful day, then realizing it was frighteningly about that. I think I didn’t want to bother you with it at the time, as not to add any more grief to your mountain. Then I read that you and Susanne Vega ,and the rest, were writing up a storm on the issue. So if you don’t have it already let me know, and I’d love for you to hear it. I was originally writing lyrics for an instrumental of a pal of mine, Darol Anger, who was recording with some group called, String Cheese Incident. Well in Brayerian fashion I got the wrong track, and wrote the stream of consciousness lyrics to the wrong song. Since I did all that work, the next day I sat down to record it the way it was, before moving on to the original instrumental, and watching the live coverage out of the corner of my eye, when the meaning hit me, and I was reminded again why we do THIS (and not that). Still envious from here of the idea of you as my compadre in the written process. You’re the greatest.
Patrick of Brayer
Dear Hard Day (Brayer/Hardy 02-14-01)
Just sittin’ here, ten miles from my original Fontareefa listening to Moon Mullican warble about sailing his ship alone, with the steel guitar sliding into each chord like it was third base. It’s too early to make noise in my studio, so I thought I would take a moment to pound out a hello. Am working on volume 36. Will mix today a version of a song by Frizz Fuller, a local Apple Valley songwriter who died this year in a Vegas institution August 19, one year exactly from my dad. Dance a quince, or coincidence? The song is called “The Hills of Covina. “In the hills of covina, i saw them digging in the rain” (forest lawn i presume). How’s the fruit of song? How’s my Hank Williams guitar? Every time I play the song, Eve and Adam They Got Married (or sometimes Even Adam He Got Married), I imagine I’m playing that guitar, then I look down and all there is is this Irish thing, with the decals of children in frying pans staring back. But now I’m driftin’ downstream on muddy water, so I just have to roll with it, that or open up a casino ferry. Me and my wife are going out on valentine’s day to hear a lecture on Hawaiian shamanism at the University. I just hope there’s steel guitars involved. Still writing in bodily function style. The reason I don’t write more is because I’m usually waiting for something substantial to happen, and then it don’t. My faith in my work has never be stronger, and my faith in the outside world could never be more diminished. But here’s to let you know how much I appreciate and recognize our little moment in the sun in your Jack-York. Anyway, I’m enjoying the recordings of Sidney Bechet, Buck Owens, Clara Rockmore, and Jack Hardy. Reading Annie Proulx (anything) and Denis Johnson (Already Dead), and a shit load of Japanese cinema. Read in the Enquirer that my pal Ben Harper, who is married, is dating Laura Dern (movie star Jack!!). When they called me for a comment, to which I just said, “The whole world revolves around a trinity, it’s either nation velvet, blue velvet (he big movie jack!!), or velvetta cheese”.
So, nothing but the best of thoughts for you. I’ll attach a photo of how creepy I’m looking beside my lovely wife Holle (Alabama girl-went to Sewannee University where Flannery O’connor hung out, and Tennessee Williams left his entire estate).
until until / brayer
Jack Hartay (Brayer/Hardy 02-15-02)
Just another note from a cyber-simp. It has indeed been a year of outside transition for you with your dear brother, and King Van Ronk. My heart is with you whenever it is needed. Had Thai-food, shitake broth soup, and Rudolph Valintino movies with the bride last night. Today just butternut squash soup and a big beer from Sweden. Thanks again for including me with all the big shots in the Smithsonian project. I already got one e-mail about it, except all he wanted to know was who the lesbians on the cover were. That’s why the word “public” sounds so much like “pubic” I guess. I’m reading Robert Penn Warren’s All the Kings Men again, boy is that a great book. If you ever get some time I would like to get a good scan of that picture of him and you for my archive. Maybe I can woodshed out an article on you sometime. Send me the best one you have on yourself and I’ll see if I can top it. I will try to attach a photo of my pal Roy, myself, and Van Ronk in the 80’s in Riverside. We were opening up for him at a venue called, The Barn. My first site of him was with a shopping bag full of scotch and cigars. Somebody else carried his guitar. He was a nice and jovial guy with a big long lousy American car that was as raspy as his voice. After the show we took him to The Mission Inn for drinks at The Presidential Lounge (named because Nixon got married there, that was before “he didn’t do it”). We had recently done a benefit for the Mexican flood victims with Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer, but the bar had just changed management, and now they had a magician and a bad torch singer with big lipstick. We had a few Bushmills, and then went out back, urinated in a brick alley, the three of us, like a scene from a forgotten movie, and went our separate ways. His goodbye was so gruff I swore it sounded like a big metal wing lifting from the ground. We met up with him again some time later in Chico, California, kind of a hippie farmland vibration. But we lost him when he took off with some antique barfly that he met, and left us with his road-worn travel mate, in a motel with a six pack of colt 45, her drying her tears with the worst dread lochs I’d ever encountered. But I’ll have to say he was one of the few characters to come out of the 60’s folk circus with dignity to spare
Anyway, I hope this finds you well, and that The Bottom Line dealie goes well as usual. What’s the latest with your music? What are you reading? Have you read The Velvet Horn by Andrew Lytle? He was pals with Penn Warren, and lectured at my wife’s college (University of the South at Sewannee). Plus he had the same name as the Mormon general that was passing through upper Fontana. Remember when we went up to the waterfalls when you visited? That was in Lytle Creek. You see, enough coincidences and I actually start to pay attention.
So, when I do think, I think the world of you.
Soon, your White Horse pal,
jak hardinni / (Brayer/Hardy 06-23-03)
French poodle freedom here. I have an older mac computer and AOL has some kind of beef with them and won’t recognize us a lot of the time. They can of course kiss my black hole, to speak in outer space vernacular. The content was merely a comical quote of someone actually saying something nice about me in a songwriter rag, so that my friends might get the impression that I weren’t just huddled in the corner in fear, and not answering the phone when they called. Both are true, but only when they’re true. Not ‘generic hype’ as much as ‘geriatric with a broken hip’. Just drinkin’ coffee from a cup bigger than my head. It has some advertisement for a drug on the side, but I can’t read it without my glasses. My wife came in and kissed me on the forehead as I’m trying my geriatric best to focus my eyes on this contraption, she then turned off the weezing hillbilly soundtrack I was spinning in the other room, and slipped in Glenn Gould. Sorry to miss you the last two times you were in Califia, one time sick like dog, the other time I had an accidental gig (or predicament, as I’ve come to calling them). Some friends just got back from around Dublin and brought me a picture of the Bray Head Inn, where they stayed. Guess who has a new nickname? I’ve been reading this Scottish poet lately named Burns Singer. Have you read him? I read about him in a book called Lives of the Poets. Only one little book released in his life (Still and All).
Well, I’ll let get back to writing the song, Don’t It Paint My Black Hole Mauve. Let me know if you’re able to read this? If it’s not really profound and funny, it’s that AOL conspiracy I told ya about
Your pal through all the given
In silliness / brayhead
jack hardy (Brayer/Hardy 03-22-04)
I hope this finds you well through emailia. I got your message a few weeks, maybe a month ago. I called your farm and talked to Laura. Later i called into York and left a message at green-sandwich village on howston . So now I’ll give the supercomputer highway a try. I’d love to be considered for the summer festivities if’n you’re gonna’ be involved. If the future doesn’t know what it holds, then how should we? I have a machine full of songs which I have forgotten that I wrote, that must be addressed. Just did a cover of Roger Miller’s, My Ears Should Burn (when fools are talked about). Have been reading the works of Cornell Woolrich lately, did you ever have the chance to meet him, when you weren’t busy meeting Robert Penn Warren. I think Woolrich was holed up in a hotel with his mother, dying an alcoholic with a gang-greened foot.
Anywho, I miss you gang-busters, and think of you constantly, as I sit here in that warmth, working through my fear of the world / my best
Patrick of Brayer