Saturday Odds & Sods: Long Black Veil

The Bird, The Cage & The Forest by Max Ernst.

This is the first time since the infancy of this feature that I’ve used the same featured image two weeks in a row. It captures my mood.

We’re attending a memorial service this morning for Gligamesh Homan who died in a horrible accident last week. He was the son of some old friends and was in his freshman year at LSU. I’ll have more about Gil in our second act. Suffice it to say that there’s an open  wound in my circle of friends right now.

I’m not feeling very expansive today so I’m going to keep this week’s outing relatively brief.

This week’s theme song was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin for Lefty Frizzell. It’s become a staple of the country music repertoire and has been recorded countless times.

We have three versions of Long Black Veil for your listening pleasure: Lefty Frizzell, Gillian Welch, and the Chieftains with Mick Jagger on lead vocals.

Try not to trip over your long black veil as we jump to the break.

We begin our second act with a song Rosanne Cash wrote in honor of her father’s passing:

Gilgamesh Homan, R.I.P.  In addition to the obituary, there were two pieces written about young Gil’s tragic death by friends of the family; one of whom happens to be me.

Bart Everson wrote a moving tribute for the Mid-City Messenger, An Epic Loss. Bart and Gil’s father, Mike, are the founding members of a quirky local band, Half Pagan.

The first segment of my September, 18 13th Ward Rambler column for the Bayou Brief paid tribute to Gil and his delightfully quirky family:

I’ve written extensively about what I call The Spirit Of ’05. There’s a special camaraderie among those of us who went through Katrina, the Federal Flood and its aftermath together. Lamar has written about the special ties among the post-K New Orleans blogging community. I formed many friendships then: some ephemeral, others enduring. Something terrible has happened to the family of one of them: Michael Homan.

I captured the essence of our odd but strong friendship in a Tweet so why not repeat it?

Over the years, my wife Grace and I also became friends with Michael’s charming and brilliant wife, Therese Fitzpatrick who teaches at Lusher. They’re both educators: Michael is a theology professor at Xavier. I’ve known them and their beautiful family for 13 years. Something horrible happened to them this week.

I’ve known Gilgamesh Homan since he was 5 or 6 years old. He was in a fatal skateboard accident in Baton Rouge where he was attending LSU. He was 18 years old. It’s been a long goodbye for the Homans since Gil was an organ donor and on life support until his organs could be harvested. But it’s the only good that can come of this tragic accident.

Gil’s sudden passing has devastated the Homan-Fitzpatrick family and stunned their many friends. There’s something extra awful about the death of someone you saw grow up.

Gil was a sweet and smart young man who was liked by everyone he met. I can’t say that I knew the teenage Gil all that well: like most kids that age he wanted to be with his peers, not his mom and dad’s friends. I’m just sorry that none of us will get to know the adult Gil who was bound to be as interesting a person as his parents and older sister, Kalypso.

My heartfelt condolences to Mike, Therese, and Kalypso. All your friends can do is to tell you that we care and are here for you. Always.

Before moving on there’s an unsung hero in our circle of friends: Mark Gstohl. He’s the chair of the theology department at Xavier and one of Michael Homan’s closest friends. He’s been both a rock and a rock star for the Homan family during this ordeal. Mark is a man of many nicknames: Howie Luvzus and Silent G to name a few. I’m proud to call him my friend. Thanks for everything, Howie.

I’ll give Half Pagan the last word of the segment:

I got choked up after hearing that song. If you know the story of Enkidu and Gilgamesh, you’ll know why.

Hey, Hey, It’s Mike Nesmith: There’s a wonderful piece at Bitter Southerner about Michael Nesmith who has had a long post-Monkees career as a country singer and all-around bad ass. Gabe Bullard has the details.

I have country music on my mind because of the Ken Burns joint. I’ll have a full-blown review next week.

Separated at Birth asked for the week off. I granted its request. The life of a doppleganger is tough, y’all.

We begin our abbreviated third act with one of our newer segments.

The Movie List: I’ve been reading Peter Biskind’s wonderful book about the New Hollywood: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. In honor of that tremendous tome, we take a look at one of the most interesting directors of that era.

My Top Ten Favorite Robert Altman Films:

  1.  Nashville
  2.  M*A*S*H
  3. The Player
  4. McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  5. California Split
  6. Cookie’s Fortune
  7. Short Cuts
  8. Gosford Park
  9. Thieves Like Us
  10. The Long Goodbye

Funny thing about Robert Altman. He made two stupefyingly bad movies when he was at his peak: Quintet and Popeye. The last one capsized his career for awhile. It was that bad.

Saturday GIF Horse: Dolly Parton plays an outsize role in Country Music. Here she is doing a bit of asshole lassoing in her hit movie 9 to 5:

Has anyone ever been as typecast as Dabney Coleman? He was a professional asshole.

Weekly Vintage Music Video: This isn’t the most memorable video BUT I love Carlene Carter so here it is:

Let’s close this honky tonk down with some music.

Saturday Classic: This week’s pick is a sentimental favorite of mine. Trio features three of the best singers ever: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt. They’re good friends and that’s reflected by the music.

That’s it for this week. The last word goes to the Carter Sisters with Mother Maybelle and Chet Atkins. They appear to be rocking it gingham style:

4 thoughts on “Saturday Odds & Sods: Long Black Veil

  1. Michael Storey says:

    Oh, Miss Welch. When she sings about Elvis, she’s singin to me personally, I’d want you to know.

  2. Rapier says:

    I’ve been listening to Mick Jagger’s singing voice for over 50 years and yet when I try to think of how to characterize his singing voice, even just good or bad, I draw a blank. Well I can’t say he has a good voice, but on the other hand i can’t say it’s a bad one either. Oh, well there you go. He certainly doesn’t have much range.

    Still how can anyone say he is not a great singer? Not with probably 100 instantly recognizable recorded performances.

    I’d love to hear the story of how Jagger even thought he could be a singer, how did it all start. I’d say the key to his success, beyond the great band and great songs themselves, is that his voice and mannerisms, exude an attitude of insouciance, I don’t care, in your face. Just about perfect for roots rock and roll. Now it occurs to me that it is perhaps his phrasing which is the key.

  3. es says:

    Altman’s Three Women is really good.

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