Odin sacrificed an eye, trading eyesight for insight, and disguised as Vegtam the Wanderer, traveled the world in quest of the wisdom of the ages. I have the eye sacrifice part covered. I'll get back to you when that wisdom thing kicks in.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Phil Willey and Hemingway's Whiskey

Earlier I mentioned that Willie Deville reminded me of my friend Phil. Phil was smart, always interesting to talk to, and he could make things with his hands. He delivered wonderfully quotable lines, most of which are not repeatable in mixed company. He made things as diverse as motorcycles, jewelry and guns. The guns varied everywhere from Civil War cannons, muzzle loaders, to Colt revolver replicas. When I say he made them, I mean he made them. They weren't put together from kits, they were made from round steel bars and blocks of raw tool steel. They were amazing. He really made things with his hands.

One day I was admiring his leather shirt. It fit his lean body like a worn work glove. The seams were laced with matching leather and it was fastened with a row of polished horn buttons. "Man Phil, that is one great looking shirt!"  Big smile, he said, "Thanks. I made it. People say they make things, but they usually just finish 'em. I really made this. I made the gun and cast the bullets. I shot the deer with the gun I made and tanned the hide with it's brains. I cut the pieces and laces from the hide and sewed them together.  The buttons are cut from the antlers. I made this shirt." Phil died of an aneurysm about 15 years ago, maybe longer. Time and friends tend to slip away.

Somehow I thought of Phil when I saw this Guy Clark video. Guy builds his own guitars. He read Hemingway as he drank the whiskey, so we didn't have to. He weighed the whiskey against the writing, and wrote his thoughts on paper. Then he picked up a guitar he had made with this own hands and sang this song for us. He made this song. This is about as good as "country" music gets. I just love a guitar that rings like a mellow wooden bell. Enjoy:

My father died at the age that I am now. If your father is still with you, savor your time, savor his time. Enjoy your father while you still can.


Margadant said...

Like his shoe-leather look, but you sold me with "Randall Knife."

Gunnar Berg said...

Eh, you were had by,"He was a good man, a lawyer by his trade".

Margadant said...

No, it was the good talking blues style set to a very good acoustic guitar; but that lyric does explain why father and son had such an open relationship, abounding in communication. Reminds me of my offspring. It's a comfort to know that I'll be cannonized well after I shuffle off this mortal coyle.

Gunnar Berg said...


Anonymous said...

Of all the guys we listened to back then, I would say that time has proved Guy Clark the best writer. Anyway. I'm still buying his stuff. Dex

Gunnar Berg said...

Agreed. And he's continued to write. Not too successful. A little hunger helps.