The Moral of the Story: Saying Goodbye to Larry T
By: Suzanne Hudson
We always loved having these guys play together at Waterhole Branch. They are first class musicians who have all worked with the Big Dawgs you’ve heard of and the Better Dawgs you’ll never get to know. Music World is a lot like Book World that way--quality isn’t always appreciated as much as the Big Splash is.
All are wonderful songwriters with distinct writing voices, and masters of their chosen instruments. Gove’s magic on the autoharp is legendary, Chris’s rendition of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” is swoon-worthy, and when Larry T Wilson would blow on the harmonica, he gave it his soul. Not just first class, but world class. Quality, indeed.
But these are quality guys in many more ways than musicianship, and I’m sure the two still standing would agree that Larry T, who passed away December 5th, was as generous and kind as they come. A great big teddy bear in overalls and a brown felt brim, he always honored my elderly parents with his undivided attention, and graciously never tired of singing “Take Jesus as Your Lawyer” [or You’ll Face That Judge Alone] for my late father, Gene, as it was one of Gene’s favorite songs. He always had a big-hearted hug for everyone, a warm smile, and when he said “Bless your heart,” it was not the sarcastic, mean-spirited smackdown that saturates so much of the south in its current usage. No, he meant it as an expression of faith and a genuine care for folks. He spoke it with sincerity. When he learned about my husband’s deteriorating legs, Larry T, having lost one of his own legs to diabetes, brought Joe a hand-carved staff, the kind he liked to use himself. And for me he always had a “Thank you, sweetie,” when I delivered a cold drink to him on stage.
He enjoyed telling the stories behind his songs, what inspired them, how they took shape, whether it was a gospel-driven warning or a love letter to his mother. “In the Blink of an Eye,” he said, grew out of a heart attack he had some years back. “I was dead,” he said, “and I died twice.” It was, of course, a life-changing event, a moment of gobsmack that caused him to meditate on just how quickly a life is lived, how suddenly it can exit, with the bold lyrical subtext of savoring, loving, and appreciating as the moral of the story.
Larry T’s big, giving heart betrayed him again, this past week, and all of our hearts broke some more, in this sad season of loss. We wanted to leave you a note here, Larry T, just because you left such a big heart-print on Waterhole Branch. With gratitude for your gift of song, your lingering presence, and your essence of kindness, we wave goodbye as you take heaven’s embrace. We’ll be seeing you . . .
In the meantime, we will savor, love, appreciate . . .
Photo: Gove Scrivenor, Larry T Wilson, and Chris Clifton performing at Waterhole Branch