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Stupid bitch. It’s Chick-fil-A, for crying out loud. You don’t know what they serve? Eight minutes to place an order? And this is the only cashier? All I want is a large iced tea for the ride to Macon. It’s 10:25 AM.
Up I-75 there are cops everywhere, people pulled over everywhere. I’m so fast they can’t see me. Boo!
Find the gig, but it looks like parking is a problem for the people in front of me… I notice a closed car loan business to the left so I quickly pull in there and park.
Throw on a blazer and head across some grass for the funeral home. Oh, joy! Here’s a very formal, professional guy handing me a pamphlet and apologizing for the lack of parking. I assure him that it’s no problem – we’re musicians accustomed to improvisation.
In I go. I see people everywhere. Recognize some heads, some faces. Thank God there’s Benny, siting by the aisle with his brother and inviting me to sit. Butterbean(sic) is in front of us. Perfect. I ask for Lisa and Doyle. Lisa’s up there and Doyle is somewhere – he’s going to play later.
I hustle up to Lisa in the front row and stand behind a lady who is talking with her while I watch a very good slideshow of pictures of Gregg. It dawns on me that some of the pictures are ones that I took, but none of them show me! WTF? It’s OK. There’s one of me, holding up a huge poster that I stole from France. Only I’m behind the poster. I make a note of this. Lisa can expect a letter from my attorney.
I hug Lisa and give her what I brought, explaining what it is. Pictures of Tim and Gregg for her and Doyle, and a gift from my Mama. Lisa stares at me in disbelief that this guy – who hasn’t seen Gregg in years, this guy she only met a couple of weeks ago – his mother has sent a gift. Mama’s a sweet lady, I say. And Mama monitors That Site We Shall Not Name. I tell her to go ahead and open her picture if she wants to. Return to my seat with Benny. A minute later I see someone placing the picture I brought on the table in front of the speaker’s podium. It is the only picture there and I am moved.
The clock chimes ‘leven. Kyler Mosley takes the podium and delivers extemporaneously a welcome/tribute that Faulkner might have been proud to have composed. He then introduces Glenn Harrell, who produces some notes and moves us all to laughter and tears – not an easy thing to do. Glenn does so with grace. By the time he is done any composure left in us is shot.
After that, a man whom I do not know comes to speak and to sing. Apparently, he spent a lot of time with Tim and Gregg talking about Jesus. He speaks with eloquence of their faith and – of particular interest to me – of Gregg’s attitude towards the bullshit of life. Make jokes when you can. Be serious about stuff. But don’t stress over it. Chill. This man hits a note we haven’t heard. Then he sings. I like this guy.
Then Gary Porter comes to the podium, and explains in careful detail how Gregg was not a Gregg Allman impersonator, but a true original – influenced, but not derivative. Too many people made that mistake about him. Gary begins to sing, beautifully. Rhonda, his wife, joins him at the podium and begins “Amazing Grace” and Gary joins in harmony. This goes on a while. Before they’re done, most of the guests are singing with them. Most of us are in tears. At least one of us is covered with tears and snot because there are no tissues handy. You don’t need religion to have spirituality and transcendence – this I know.
Music has been the one constant of my life. It’s taken me places that nothing else could have; it’s made friends I wouldn’t have made; it, and the people who taught me how to play, have given to me solace and relief and belonging. Tim and Gregg Brooks were the biggest part of that. I should have told them that I love them. So long my friends.
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
— Dr. Seuss