UWS Encounters: John Prine, The Drummer, and Larry Hart

RIP John Prine, and thank you. Photograph by Ron Baker.

“Then I appreciate him.”

I’d never heard of John Prine until CNN reported he died of COVID-19. I listened to his work on YouTube last evening. His songs are wonderful. So many good people and good things I’ve missed. But I can’t do catch-up about it because I’m no spring chicken myself. There are the health workers giving their heart and soul and risking their lives. There’s a lot of goodness in people and a lot of goodness going around now. Maybe in more quiet times that goodness is expressed within people’s families. But I have a feeling crisis calls upon an inner resource within folks that lays quiet even in regular times. That Lady in Black is always around. She’s just getting star treatment now in this crisis. If we could only express that inner resource, that pulling together during regular times, I think we could really make our world into something. It’s like John Prine exists for me only when he died. Then I appreciate him.

— Marian Hailey-Moss

“Suddenly all that you thought you knew was actually more”

It was almost 7:00 pm, and I ventured outside to get some needed air during this quarantine time. My eyes scanned the buildings and windows — and there he was, an older man with some kind of hat, sitting looking out the window — lonely it felt. During a time period like this, sometimes our thoughts wander back across our lives, the difficult, the easy, the painful, the wonderous, the unfinished – the things that make up a lifetime. I flashed back to a time being a kid when I had to stare out the window, watching the older kids playing outside when it was after 7:00 pm and we had to stay in. Was his life feeling full circle – again having to stay in and stare out the window with envy at those who might be out there — and did it bring sadness to him that it had all come back to that. It made me reflect on my own lifetime — what was maybe not accomplished. Abruptly pots started clanging, whistles, cheers, applause and it was the 7:00 pm tribute to our health care workers, first responders, and essential workers. At some point I heard a drum, it built to a crescendo in a military sounding rhythm – it made me at least feel stronger and braver and more of a fighter. Then I saw it, that lonely looking man in the window stood up, his hat was some kind of a military hat, and he had a drum attached with a strap — he was the drummer. Suddenly all that you thought you knew was actually more, so much more. It wasn’t just a sad full circle, it symbolized all of the things that happened in between the full circle that made him who he is, made us who we are, and make us still who we are to be. What I knew that day was that he is a drummer, and I am a drummer, and we all are.

— Patrick Pierce


“Stuck in Manhattan”

Self quarantined for 31 days due to preexisting lung condition. Because the great Larry Hart lived in my building, I’ve updated “Manhattan” in his honor.

Stuck in Manhattan
With hopes we’ll flatten
This viral curve
I hope I’ll live to see it swerve.

Stuck in Manhattan
No pizza rat in subway cars
No Bros imbibing booze in bars.

This great big city’s a petri dish
Chock full of contagious fish
Stuck in Manhattan
Without a mask or knish.

Stuck in the Apple
A lonely chapel with empty pews
Perhaps in time we’ll hear good news.

Stuck in the Apple
Where neighbors grapple for TP rolls
Let’s hope we’ll see a drop in tolls.

This viscous virus will not destroy
The dreams of each girl and boy.
Return Manhattan into an isle of joy.

— Hal C. Walker

In case you need the tune, here’s Ella Fitzgerald:

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COLUMNS | 3 comments | permalink
    1. tim says:

      john prine was a true talent, this was sad news

    2. Ruth Bonnet says:

      Thank you, Hal C. Walker, for that lovely parody of Manhattan. Made me smile. And we all need that nowadays.

    3. Joanne Silverman says:

      Why “aisle of . . . “