I want to tell this story, so you feel like you'd been there too. [Actually,
it's two stories -- one short and one longer and better. :) ]
I first saw David at Warren Wilson College in a small roomful of students.
He played last of an evening of student musicians -- and he had to.
Who could follow him!
The students gathered there knew what was coming -- the anticipation in the
room was thick. And deservedly so. He was amazing, even then.
I watched from the back, sitting up on a spiral staircase.
For one of the songs he sang, he pulled out a crumpled, scratched piece of
paper from his pocket, and said, "I wrote a new song this morning from a
letter to an old love...hmm...no, I don't think I can remember it well enough
to play tonight." We, of course, were, "you have to play it!!"
And he did. And it was so honest and gentle that it brought tears to
all of our eyes. At that moment I was captured.
This song appeared on his second album, and is called "Language of the Heart."
That's the first story.
After that, I went to see him literally every show he did. At the time,
he was still playing at McDibbs in Black Mountain North Carolina, near where
I grew up in Saluda.
He'd become popular enough to play fridays and saturdays by this time, and
in a packed house, he came out and started playing. He started with
"Eye of the Hurricane" and was playing his heart out! He sang the first
verse, then the chorus....then suddenly stopped playing. We kinda looked
left and right at eachother, wondering what was wrong. David walked
up to the mic and said sheepishly, "....I forget the second verse!"
He laughed, "hold on hold on..." He stepped back and started playing
again, through the whole entire intro again. Then he mouthed
the first verse, and the chorus, and when he got to the second verse, he
started singing again and finished the song! We were laughing so hard!
Later during the show, between songs, he said, "I'm having such a
good time tonight! I keep telling myself, 'David, it's a sad song!'"
We knew just what he meant.
After the show was over, David broke down, and spoke to those who came up
to him. I didn't dare talk to him after a show. Are you kidding?!
I was young and had a massive crush on him and knew better than to make a
total fool of myself! :)
But after most people had left, there was a handful of us who just couldn't
leave. After a while, David sat on the stage, and kept singing, just
for us. Bill Mellenson was there singing harmony that night, and he
was stretched out on his back on the stage, singing too.
This next bit is the important part, and I remember it vividly because it
made a great impression on me. The bartender came up to him and handed
him a huge roll of money from the door. David took it and put it in
his pocket without so much as a glance.
Now he was playing for free. It was at that moment I realized that
he wasn't playing for the money. He was playing for us.
The money helped pay the bills, sure, but the music was why he was
It was also that same night that he and Bill sang a countryfied version
of Eye of the Hurricane! I remember the night clearly. They sang
the first verse, and the chorus, and we were cracking up so bad they couldn't
sing over it! So they start cutting up. :) They're ready to sing
the second verse...and Bill forgets it! And David chimes
right on in -- because he's been through this bit already from earlier!!
And even then he screws it up! We were all about to pee our pants!!
It was one of my favorite nights with David....
------The epilog is this:
I moved to California in '96, nearly 10 years later. East Asheville
Hardware came out not long after.
I was lonely, and didn't know anyone at all. And it was the worse kind
of not knowing anyone, since, after college, where I knew so many
people, I would walk down the street, thinking I recognized someone I knew,
but was always, always wrong... I was lost, and lonely, and far away
One lazy day, with nothing else to do, I brought East Asheville Hardware
home. After the album was over, I didn't feel like getting up and so
let it run... It continued for a long time in silence without shutting
off. I almost got up...when this countryfied version of Eye of the
Hurricane came on! A secret track! And I was suddenly taken back
to that evening, back home, back to North Carolina for a while, and was cheered
up greatly. I could've sworn that I could hear myself laughing
in the background! I couldn't be sure if it was the same night, but
it doesn't really matter to the telling of the story does it?
After a show in San Francisco on May 5th, a concert that I got tickets for
my birthday for, I finally got up the courage to talk with David after the
show for the first time ever after all this time!
is much longer, and even more magical, but it has its own telling another
However, he confirmed that it was indeed the same night!