Shawn Phillips is 65 and I'm Not...Yet
Wasn't it Joni Mitchell who sang, "I woke up today and found/ Snow upon the town..."? I found just that when I got up. Again. The world seems sad and resigned under the wool blanket of the winter that will not die. Geese who have flown in are huddled on lawns they mistook for ponds, wearing mantles of white. As I watched the news this morning, the turkey glared in at me through my back porch door, and the idiot dog launched off the couch and nearly knocked herself out on the glass. The turkey, unimpressed, seemed to say "Pshaw!" and strolled away. It had been out there inspecting Shawn Phillips' cigarette butts, but it found nothing worth eating.

He's on his "Shawn Phillips 65th Birthday Tour." Here from South Africa. Driving alone all over America. Cinderella and I went on down to Fitzgerald's in Berwyn, and the guy at the door said, "I know you. Come on in." But the joint was already completely packed out. SRO. We squeezed ourselves into a small space behind the bend in the bar and stood there. They completely sold out their capacity, and a guy told me later he'd paid a $20 bribe to sneak in. Wow. Who knew you could go away for a couple of years and suddenly madness would set in among your fans.

Shawn was in great form--he hit all the high notes, which I did not think he could do. He gave me some very sweet shout-outs from the stage, and he performed what I call the "Teresita Suite" from the Hummingbird audiobook (he composed the music) and then he sang "The Devil's Highway," inspired by the book. Fans all around petted me as if I were their own SP-gnome.

After the gig, he sat in the heated tent besieged by fans. It was cool to see. All these graying guys with ponytails clutching scuffed-up LPs of "Second Contribution." I gave him some hugs and told him I'd see him at the house the next day. I was pensive on the way home, as I am after I see him plasy. It's hard to picture a body of music that accompanied you along the many paths from the ager of 13 or 14 on to now. The songs I sued to play for Prudence over the phone at midnight. The songs I made love to. The songs I took to Mexico to my dearest cousins, some of whom are dead now. Stuff I listened to when I was young. Seems a very long time ago.

On Sunday SP came down to the house and we had a great day. We called pals on the phone, and we ate, and we watched TV. Megan made Shawn cookies for the road. Chayo tortured him with her pet rat. And then it was night, and brother Phillips got back in his tour truck and headed for Austin, Texas. Where I'll be in about a month.

Joe Ely said it: "The road goes on forever/ The party never ends..."


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