Before I became what some call a poet, I couldn’t tell a Sara Teasdale from a Saran tea cozy, a Billy from a Tom Collins. But I recognized what I considered mastery of words and how some men and women gave them a heartbeat that mine would echo, a vision that I could see.
Besides Dylan, (Bob, not Thomas) Paul Simon (to whom I give thanks for that last bit), Leonard Cohen, Nanci Griffith and their rarefied ilk, there came late to grace my mind’s ear a songwriter most of you probably never heard of named Dave Carter.
And seemingly as soon as I “discovered” him, Dave was taken away, at age 49, by a heart attack just a few counties east of here in Hadley, Mass., on the morning of July 19, 2002.
This passing hit me in a way I did not expect…harder than I would imagine during this time of my depression and illness. And, in retrospect, I think the poet (for he was a poet of brilliant gifts) Dave Carter’s death may in some way have been a spark toward my becoming a writer again after I came through my little heart and head issues a few years ago. You never know when that tap on your shoulder will come again, so I decided to become the me you’ve come to read.
I was feeling a little blue today and wasn’t sure exactly why, I’m sure it’s a compost heap of things, from which I hope someday something fine will grow. But, once I remembered the date and listened to a bunch of Dave’s songs with his partner in music and life Tracy Grammer, I remembered how lucky I am to still be here and able to express myself as I now do. Certainly not so well as that poet of the plains, Dave Carter did. More like a poet of the plain, and that’ll have to do.
I may never be published, may never submit again, but I can’t deny what I’ve been given.
Do yourself a favor and check out some of Dave’s lyrics someday, particularly The Mountain and Tanglewood Tree. Until then, here’s a glimpse of Dave and Tracy doing his song that I want played on my way outta this somewhat brightening world. Maybe I’ll meet Dave then in Happytown. It’s called When I Go.