Song for Alistair

I think of summer festivals, I think of double dates
I think of being searched by cops outside the prison gates
I think of dark-haired women, one or two or maybe four
I think of singing songs together, planning to sing more
I think of Queensland summer, swimming in cool waters
With you and me and Woodford and Athena’s daughters
I think of driving down the highway feeling like the lucky few
I think of Grevious Angels, Gram and Emmylou

I think of Maralinga and the BLF
Seventh chords in open tunings and the mighty treble clef
I think of 1917 and the red flag flying high
Above the streets of Glasgow, beneath a blood-red sky
I think of Roaring Jack and how you would repine
Of decades fueled in equal parts by politics and wine
I think of meeting friends, both old and very new
I think of driving down the highway with Gram and Emmylou

I think of Aotearoa, gazing at the stars
I think of that drunken driver who totalled our car
I think of playing in the Bunker, how that audience had spunk
Half of them old folkies, half of them young punks
I think of all the miners who slowly fade away
I think about the moment when I heard it was your day
I think about this CD that I got from you
When I’m driving down the highway with Gram and Emmylou

I think I first met Alistair Hulett when I was touring with Attila the Stockbroker in 2002, or around then, and Attila and I played in Glasgow and spent the night at Alistair and Fatima’s flat in Glasgow.  After that, I stayed with Alistair on all my future visits to Glasgow.  In 2005, during the G8 meetings in Scotland, we went from place to place, attending demonstrations and singing at them.  In the few years between then and his untimely death, we toured together in the US, Australia and New Zealand, and had a lot more great times together.  During our long drives, Alistair introduced me to lots of music I hadn’t heard before.  The Grevious Angels record by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris was one of Alistair’s favorite albums of all time, and became one of mine, too.  We also listened to a hell of a lot of Bob Dylan records that I hadn’t gotten around to listening to yet.  Dylan was another favorite for both of us, though Alistair very successfully convinced me to take a second look at some of Dylan’s more contemporary stuff, such as Love and Theft.  The other CD we listened to the most was probably the Celtics Football club (Glasgow, Scotland) supporters CD, which was mostly Irish rebel songs about ambushing British soldiers.

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