What you have here is a slice of 1970. Three young guys, working out the harmonies to the Beatles "Hey Bulldog". The guy on the far right is one Mr. Nelson Brown, bass player extraordinaire. That's me in the middle, and yes...I did have hair at the time. The one playing the Gibson is Mr. Gary Burttram. My friend. I don't use the word "friend" lightly. I don't much care for the "friend" tag that Facebook uses. I understand why they do it. Sort of a pseudo social term to indicate that just because someone wants to read what you have posted, they have be your "friend". Not the way real friendship works.
Went back to some old stompin' grounds yesterday.
Very familiar, yet, at the same time, very surreal.
I got a text message yesterday morning that Teddy Burttram had passed away.
Visitation was at 11 a.m. / Funeral at 1 p.m.
The Burttram boy's....Teddy and Gary. Now you talk about two eclectic individuals, those two fit the bill. I met Garry in the fall of 1969. My first quarter at Gadsden State. My good friend, Jim Bentley was taking art, and told me that he wanted me to meet this fellow that seemed like a kindred spirit to me. So I left my world of accounting and Western Civ., to journey down the hill to a magical place where strange characters lived....the art department at Gadsden State. There Burttram was.....sleeves rolled up....jeans, sneakers ....working on a water color painting of a woodland scene. This proved to be the beginning a long friendship that stretched out over more years than I care to count.
Gary was all up into music. Played guitar and piano. Wrote songs...sang songs and played in a number of bands. At this particular juncture in time, Gary and his brother, Teddy, were forming a new band....Caldwell Crossing. Teddy played sax and sang, they had enlisted the help of a two good friends..Danny Standford (lead guitar player) and Nelson Brown (bass player and singer). Now the drummer was another matter. If you're from this area and were alive back in the 60's, then you probably saw some car dealership commercials on T.V....O.Z. Hall Ford in Birmingham. The drummer was O.Z. Hall Jr., and an incredible drummer he was. We called him "Z"...why? Because he answered to it.
Caldwell Crossing was the first serious band I had ever played with. Up until that time, I had been with groups that were cover bands, playing whatever was hot on the charts at the time. Caldwell Crossing played a few cover songs, but they were writing original stuff which was pretty good, if you ask me. I kid you not, when Gary sat down at the piano and played, he sounded exactly like Paul McCartney. Spooky, it was. I knew that this was a special band.
I payed with Caldwell Crossing for about a year and a half. There was a parting of the ways, as is with any band. I moved on as did Teddy and Gary. Years went by and I saw Gary on different occasions. He was the type of friend that no matter how long it had been since we last saw each other, we could pick up as if no time had passed at all.
Fast forward to yesterday. Gary and I stood in the church, Teddy nearby as people passed by to pay their respects. There on a table next to Teddy's casket were pictures of Tedd through the years. memories...what a gift. There is a comfort in knowing someone well. A comfort that allowed a conversation that was years old, to be picked up and continued as if no interruption had taken place. This kind of friendship was like putting on a pair of old shoes that fit just right. They may be old and scuffed up, but they just feel right.
I've taken this jaunt down memory lane to say this.
Don't take for granted the people that pass through your life.
Don't leave things unsaid between yourself and them.
Tell them how much you love them.
Tell them how much you appreciate them.
Stay in touch, and don't let life dig a chasm between you and them.
Bottom line in this old world....
It's the friends you have.
The real friends, not the wanna be's.
Cherish the friendships, and let the memories of them warm your bones when the weather turns.
Rest now Teddy....
Be at peace.....
God on you...