By Patrick Brayer

(Photo: Peter Figen)

“When you hear my music played, you’ll know that I”m not far away” (from The Golden Flute)

  The first time I met David Lindley I had a cassette of my songs in my fist.  My friend Chris Darrow had brought me over to the Lindley craftsman in Claremont, Darrow being his longtime bandmate throughout the 1960s, not to mention that Dave was married to his sister Joanie.  I was in heaven for a second as he impishly jumped with glee upon looking over the song titles, especially, Kittens on the Cross.  Of course in the long run the songs were not good enough, but I didn’t care, for I got to meet one of my all-time musical heroes.  Thanks to Joanie and their daughter Rosanne I was invited over on numerous occasions in the early 2000s. At one point in walking around their house, I spied an event poster on the refrigerator that caught my eye.  It was advertising a gun show in Pomona California to be held in 1996.  I just couldn’t imagine what that would be like, so I wrote a song about it where I ran some characters through the paces of what it might be like, in strictly mythological terms.  It was aptly titled, Gun Knife Militaria Western Fishing Show

   The strangest story I have involving Mr. Dave started on my birthday, circa 2004.  My wife and I were renting a little house next door to a mid-century-modern tri-plex, one part inhabited by my brother Mike, and another coincidently by the Lindley’s daughter Rosanne.  Historically, the renowned artist Millard Sheets designed the structure for his sculptor friend Jack Zajac.  The whole place had floor-to-ceiling windows, shaded by a sprawling pine and a wall of oleander severing our two places.  Since it was my birthday I decided, that before I settled in to watch a Godzilla marathon on TCM with Dorito chips, I would have a Bloody Mary and eat a piece of a hash brownie that a friend had gifted me. I then saddled up our cattle dog Elsinore for a short stroll of the neighborhood around Larkin Park.  I got about halfway around and the concoction started kicking in, so we started to head for home.  I was starting to get really high and when I got within about half a block from our house a van pulled up and out pops David Lindley wearing a sweatshirt with a photo that I took on the front of it.  Frankly, I wasn’t sure if  I was really seeing it or not, the hash was that good. I had a shaky battlefield of roses to contend with in my mind. So I dastardly tried to slip by without being noticed, because (double frankly) I wasn’t sure if I could talk.  Take in mind here that this is one of my all-time heroes.  Let me preface this by saying that I had the honor of doing some of the photographs for his then-most recent 2003 recording, Los Cromasomes: Twango Bango III (with Wally Ingram of Timbuk 3), so I recognized the photo. Between taking pictures of him I also thought to take some of his wild clothing and I dressed his instruments up as people out in the backyard, this while he shot his bow and arrow at a distant bullseye.  The sky was the grey glass of dusk and the soil was a dampened peat. Unusual for our normal drought, the hills still hung a slight green before turning their customary Weissenborn brown. Birds and rats seem to be collaborating on the telephone wires like a growing militia, and then the seasons roll until the desert sun comes leaping at you, and your dreams, like a four alarm fire, showing proof of the valley’s true reptilian nature.

It might be noted that Dave seemingly shared the same tailor as Lightnin’ Hopkins, with a humble tinge of Mardi Gras jester, a mythic figure similar to señor Dave, traipsing from hovel to hovel, just as Dave himself went threading from town to town on a concert parade lasting fifty-odd years.  I had at some point taken one of the photos from that shoot and made a humorous CD cover, Live from Tone-Henge, and that was what was covering his heart on the sweatshirt.  He immediately apologized for doing it without my permission, to which I told him, no, that it was an honor, but I think I probably wandered away in the middle of a sentence, busy in my own psychedelic wallflower of shame.  The next morning there was a package on my doorstep with one of the sweatshirts, a fruit basket, and an El Rayo X t-shirt in the special Lindley Blue.

   David made everything he played on better.  Never has there been a single soul to disagree.  He did this in conversation also, with a highly original perspective and humor, where he could go from saving the planet to affecting a bawdy Russian peddler’s dialect without skipping a beat.  His was a form of vaudeville that also understood string theory.  He had it all.  His collaborations with Zevon, Raitt, and Cooder defined in sonic neo-noir the path of the coming-of-age era for me, and tons of others.  In a late-night conversation with friends concerning comparisons of Jimi Hendrix to David Lindley we concluded that they were just brothers who went to different tailors together.  Jimi Hendrix was a genius, and awe-inspiring, but in comparison, he came off as somewhat of a show-off.  Lindley’s work with Jackson Browne was to spell out, in the early 70s, the woven efforts of my own rights of passage, showing that to grow up was to accept that less was indeed more.  They did what everyone else just aspires to in musicality, and that is, two souls coming together to create a ghost third.  Likening a shift from a mere two to a third-dimensionality. That’s what tugs at your heart, the same way the blues probably did in its original conception.  Lindley came from a somewhat well-heeled childhood in Pasadena California. It was here where string quartets and sitar music were to be as normally wafting from the kitchen as the scent of apple pie.  On a side note, I found out that his aunt was the famous film star Loretta Young, which you can upon inspection easily, fleshing out his dynamic, see in the likeness of his daughter Rosanne, who is a great singer in her own right.    His wife Joanie is a great artist also, as well as the child of two world-class artists, Paul and Nadine Darrow. The family was brimming with talent. My dad ran an egg ranch in Fontana, so I was more than ready to embrace all that they had to offer in their bohemian candy store, an inspirational Eden where all the apples were signed by Lloyd Loar.

 (Loretta Young)

  All we have left is the rest of our lives, which is what it will take to absorb the gifts that David Lindley bestowed upon the earth.  Our hearts are islanded with our tears for his family, but aren’t we all not a little envious to not have had him all to ourselves on a daily basis?  I’ll have to admit, before I go to bed myself, that he could indeed, like no one I’ve ever met before, make the impossible seem effortless.

(Photo: Patrick Brayer)

Here’s a painting of David Lindley done by the great Kentucky artist Roy Ruiz Clayton.

Look how hard the Lindley’s have to work to be unphotogenic. This was taken at Ben Harper’s wedding party at his grandparents house in Claremont CA. That’s me in the hay hat.

Rosanne Lindley with her Gretsch Synchromatic (Photo: Patrick Brayer)

One of my favorite young Dave photos taken by his bride.

Below this photo of the Mad Mountain Ramblers are a series of images taken by Riverside photographer Steven John Cahill. Steve is considered as one of the Inland Empire’s greatest secret weapons, with him being present as both a musician and a photographer at the inception of the careers of both David Lindley and Chris Darrow (our area’s one-two punch). The Rambler’s picture, taken by Joanie Lindley, features L-R, Bob Warford, Chris Darrow, David Lindley, and Steve Cahill. Presently Steve can be heard performing with his group The Squeakin’ Wheels at The Contemporary Club at The Smiley Library in Redlands on Wed. March 29 2023 (5:30 / free admission). This can be your chance to thank him in person.

A few other comical CD covers I shared with The Lind.

The author, and I use the term loosely.