After a tough week of funeral traveling, I was ready to put this week behind me. We were invited to dinner by our neighbors a couple of houses down. Their son and our son are best friends. We've visited often, gone out to dinner a handful of times, trade-off taking each other's kid to the pool, scouts, school activities, etc. But we've never really gotten to know them much beyond that.
We were invited along with a few other folks to sit on the deck, eat grilled ribs, that ambrosia fruit salad stuff, tomato and mozzarella salad, cheesecake, etc. Also margaritas, wine, and brew were provided. Ummm-hmmm.
After quaffing a couple of after-work Dos Perros from Nashville's Yazoo Brewing, I was willing to experiment with something different. I tried Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic for the first time. Good stuff.
One by one, the others left until it was just our two neighbors, my wife, and me. The night air was fantastic with a nice breeze, lightning bugs were plentiful, and beer remained. I was then offered an Italian beer, Birra Moretti. Mamma Mia, it was a good and tasty brew. Capiche?
The four of us don't have a whole lot in common beyond having sons as best friends and living on the same street. My wife stays at home and runs Mom's Taxi Service for our two. I work in a corporate office setting, roll pretty conservative, and dig NASCAR and Americana music. Our neighbors are both chemistry professors - one at a state university and the other at Vanderbilt. They list pretty significantly to the political left. Her van may be the only one in our subdivision sporting an Obama sticker. But hey - we all have to get along, right?
Because the evening was ultra low-key, I wore a pair of flip-flops, a pair of shorts, and my John Prine concert tee. Once other conversations ended, my neighbor said she didn't know I was a Prine fan and that she'd been a fan of his for years. We talked lyrics, his early job as a postman, his getting discovered by Kristofferson, her meeting him in a Nashville book store, the recent show at the Ryman, etc.
Her husband then asked me if I knew who Townes van Zandt was. I responded with an "absolutely!" He then told me a story of his meeting Townes and having a meal with him years ago via a friend. When he met him, Townes introduced himself simply as "Hi, I'm Townes." He said his friend whispered that it was THE Townes van Zandt. I laughed when my neighbor said he thought to himself at the time "So? Who the hell is Townes van Zandt?"
We then discussed how Townes really never promoted himself in his time. He's one of those artists whose fame seemingly came largely after death than during life. They didn't know Townes once lived in Franklin, TN for a while. I told them the story of Joe Ely picking up Townes as a Texas hitchhiker and getting one of his LPs from him (an armload of albums was the only possession he was carrying). We debated on how great a songwriter he was - as measured back in the day and as compared against today's songwriters. And we talked about his decline, hip surgery, and eventual death on New Year's Day 1997.
Talk about Townes and Prine then led rapid-fire to Dylan, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Luke the Drifter. Before we could go far with those discussions, my wife not-so-subtly gave me the throat-slash sign. Cut it off - its getting late - time to go.
But it was definitely an enjoyable Tennessee summer evening. Got to know the neighbors a bit better. Sampled two beers that were new to me. Agreed to share some TVZ boots with them. And my week ended on a far better chord than the minor one in which it began.