Song for Eric (Eric Mark)

Every time I see that street, I think of you

And I think of the mornings
And your long red hair
You’re rolling out of bed
Though you rather stay right there
But your housemates are up
And there’s so much to do
Every time I see that street, I think of you

And I think of the afternoons
Lost together in thought
Long walks in the park
All the answers we sought
With a mind and heart
Of the wonderous few
Every time I see that street, I think of you

And I think of the evenings
All the stories you told
Out driving your cab
Barely twenty years old
But with such ancient eyes
Oh the wisdom you knew
Every time I see that street, I think of you

And I remember that night
The tequila we drank
Laughing for hours
With a world to thank
And you told me you loved me
And I said, “Eric, I love you, too”
Every time I see that street, I think of you

And I think of the wee hours
Long before dawn
Determined to wander
‘Til the darkness was gone
San Francisco at night
And the warm summer breeze
Walking back alleys
Just as free as you please
And I think of those poor boys
Who drove up to say
“Give us your money”
And then they blew you away
With one pull of a trigger
Your sweet life was through
Every time I see that street, I think of you

Sheet music for this song may be found in Songbook Vol I (1997-2004).

“Song for Eric” appears on the 2000 CD, Live at Club Passim.

This is one of several songs I’ve written about Eric Mark.  Eric was a close friend and housemate.  We lived together along with several other friends and housemates in San Francisco in 1992-3.  Eric was a thrill-seeking motorcycle enthusiast, taxi driver, and, more and more by the day, a Marxist intellectual.  He died way before his time on May 1st, 1993 when he and I and several other people were out one night spray-painting an abandoned building in the Mission District with leftwing slogans for International Workers Day.  Unbeknownst to any of us, there was a war going on between two Mission District gangs, and Eric was shot and killed with a shotgun (on Shotwell Street) after being robbed by a gang of kids who had pulled up in a car in the wee hours of the morning.  Eric had attempted to intervene in what he thought was going to be a shooting of another young man, and ended up being the one getting shot instead.  Eric’s death changed my life, turned my reality upside-down, and was the event that led to me writing decent songs for the first time, because it was the event that mentally and emotionally broke me out of the “white middle class suburban American male” box I had put myself in, allowing me, through intense grief, to become a full-fledged human being for the first time.

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