Steve Young: Renegade Picker, A Tribute

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A true musical legend has passed. An influential musician and song-writer of the highest caliber. Steve Young, died March 17th. He passed in Nashville, Tennessee. In October he had sustained a head injury from a fall while at home. The extent of his injures were serious, but he had returned home. It became apparent that his condition was steadily declining, irreversibly affecting both his physical and mental capacities. He had been in hospice care at the time of his passing. He was 73 years old, and will be greatly missed. Fortunately, he left behind a rich and lasting legacy with his music. He will be missed, but remembered as a man who truly did it his way.

His son, Jubal announced his passing, delivering a message praising his memory.

“Turn supernatural, take me to the stars, and let me play. He would be the last person to want to be trapped in a broken mind and body. I celebrate his freedom as well, and I am grateful for the time we had”. The opening line, coming from a verse in Steve’s song, “Alabama Highway”.

 

 

 

 

Although he was not that well know to the general mainstream musical audience, his influence and impact on several generations of artists, can not be dismissed. He inspired many artists throughout his 50 year career. He was a much beloved and respected figure among his peers, fans and friends.

As well as touring all over the world, Steve crisscrossed the US frequently. Over the years, he would often form close and lasting relationships with his fans, performing at a series of small venues and private party shows, such as the Hamm Jam, hosted several times by Harry Hamm, at his home in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. The picture taken from that show(middle) in June 2004, by his long time booking agent June Lehman.

 

 

 

 

A pivotal artist of his time. His songs were poetical and lyrical, moving and rich in imagery. His songs transported you to the places he sang about, and the cast of characters, often misfits, evoked sympathy and recognition of people we all have known at some time. No stranger himself to the pitfalls of temptation. He could also be gentle and romantic, with such songs as, “Vision Of A Child”, a lullaby, written at the time, for his young son Jubal.

He never really achieved stardom, but had a worldwide fan basis, with a cult following, here in the US and Europe. He was beloved by his hardcore base of fans. His loss came as a shock to those of us, who appreciated his unique gifts, undeniable talent and true generosity as a performer and person.

 

 

 

 

He was a pioneer, and influential in the outlaw county movement of the mid 1970’s, although he had already been performing folk, folk-rock and country for years. His music embraced many genres, and he was influenced by many diverse artists, from Hank Williams (who is prominently figured in his songs”Montgomery In The Rain” and “The White Trash Song”) and Elvis Presley, to the local street corner musicians of his youth. Those were his formative years, in the rural Southern setting where he grew up. Much of which later shaped his songwriting, he drew on those influences. They exuded from him with an authenticity and genuineness.

 

 

 

 

As he grew older, he wanted to escape the South, but his writing evokes much of the times, people and places that were to play a part in helping form his musical influences, styles and writing. The South he portrayed, not always depicted in a positive light, yet, a place he could not so easily forsake or disown. He deserves a place in the pantheon of great Southern writers, ones who also felt stifled and like outsiders, that same South that had also bred intolerance, and a history of inequality. That rich and diverse history and culture of the South, both good and bad, shaped and played a part in who he was, and what he accomplished with his music. In his life, and now his death, he has come back full circle.

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Photo taken at the Pioneer Pavilion, Youngstown, Ohio by Tom Sailor.His last official CD, “Stories Round The Horseshoe Bend” was recorded here.

He was a prolific songwriter, his tunes being covered by many other artists. His most famous composition, “Seven Bridges Road”, was covered by the Eagles. It is probably his most well-known song, covered by scores of artists. He was also overlooked as a very skilled and accomplished guitarist.

 

 

 

 

Other standout songs include, “Lonesome, On’ry ¬†And Mean”, covered by Waylon Jennings. “Montgomery In The Rain” and “The White Trash Song”, covered by Hank Williams Jr.

A son of the south, steeped in its mystery and its history; in the tradition of Faulkner, Wolfe, and Williams.  He was born in Newnan, Georgia on July 12,1942 ,and grew up in the Gadsden, Alabama area, later moving to Beaumont, Texas.

At the age of 18, he was shot in the chest. He had been waiting for some friends, while seated in a parked car. It was a serious injury, that nearly killed him. It took well over a year to recuperate. During this down time, he polished his skills on the guitar. He had begun playing at a young age, and was determined and ultimately destined to become a musician.

It was during this time that he met, fellow Gadsden musicians, the folk-bluegrass duo known as Richard and Jim, they were, Richard Lockmiller and Jim Connor. They had been looking for a guitar player, and song-writer. He contributed several compositions to their album, “Folk Sounds and Country Sounds”, also touring with them. On that tour Steve showed a humorous and devil-may-care attitude. Richard and Jim had been asked to attend the wedding of their friend, Richard Farina to Joan Baez’s younger sister, Mimi. Steve was invited to accompany them. There he rubbed shoulders with the folk elite of the day. His sharp wit and sense of humor may not have been entirely appreciated by some of the attendees, but it was Steve, being Steve.

He started his solo performing career in the small clubs of Alabama and Texas, then moving to the New York folk scene. He returned back to Alabama, but his restless and rebellious character finally drove him west, where so many other aspiring musicians were flocking.

Always feeling the outsider, in the early 60’s, he headed to California, and the burgeoning music scene there. ¬†A true Bohemian had arrived, at a turbulent and formative time in music history. His blend of country, folk, blues and rock, came at a time when artists and groups such as The Byrds, Buffalo ¬†Springfield, Linda Ronstadt and Bob Dylan had adapted and added a traditional country sound to the rock sounds that had also inspired them. They were met with scorn, by the traditional country artists, and with equal scorn by the hardcore rock fans. Yet they did reach an audience that appreciated the sound, and they pioneered and laid down the foundation for many of the artists that followed them.

He worked for a time for the US Postal service, in between playing various gigs with many other artists that would later find fame. For a time he was in a band with Van Dyke Parks and Stephen Stills, the Gas Company ; the Skip Battin Band (later of the Byrds), and the afore-mentioned Richard and Jim.  17179810691_48ff1d9722

His first recording was playing guitar on the 1964, “The Things That Troubled My Mind” by folk artist Dick Weissman.

“Stone Country” was his first major recording as a member of a group, it was released on the RCA label, in 1968. The record was not a success. It blended folk, country and ¬†the psychedelic sounds of the time. Interesting tracks included, The Band’s, “This Wheels On Fire”, and the straight country of George Jones’ “Why Baby Why”.

 

 

 

 

In 1969, A & M offered him a contract, and he recorded his first solo LP, “Rock, Salt And Nails”, although critically acclaimed, it did not achieve sales success. It was produced by the well-known Tommy Li Puma. The first recording of his most famous composition, “Seven Bridges Road”, was to appear on this debut LP. Some of the top studio musicians of the time were on hand for this project, as well as influential artists of the time such as Gram Parsons and Gene Clark. All three artists, seminal figures of this emerging genre of a mixture of folk, country and rock. The three artists sharing a commonality in musical direction and hailing from the South.

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Shortly after the release of “Rock, Salt And Nails”, he left LA; ¬†by now married to the singer Terrye Newkirk. They moved to the Bay and Marin County area, eventually settling in Nicaso, in western Marin County. In late 1969, in the town of San Anselmo, Amazing Grace, was opened and became a popular guitar shop. He sold guitars and other stringed instruments, and gave guitar lessons. It would become a well-known gathering place for local musicians, as well as some well-known ones. The store, is still in operation under the owners whom he had originally sold it to.¬†12240141_10209296710794495_568031263482191979_n

His second LP, “Seven Bridges Road”, ¬†did not appear until 1972, on the Reprise label, recorded in LA and Nashville. Produced by Paul Tannen, with the cream of the crop Nashville session men. Steve did not feel comfortable with the Nashville establishment at the time. The LP met with critical acclaim, but again little airplay. It was later re-issued on the small New Mexico independent label, Blue Canyon, and again years later on the Rounder label, by that time Steve has achieved a degree of success with a loyal and devout following.

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Disillusioned with Nashville, he did not record again until 1975, on a small independent label, Mountain Railroad. Produced by Stephen Powers, the LP, “Honky Tonk Man”, recorded in Minnesota with local musicians, was yet another exceptional work. It included and highlighted Steve’s adept playing. A largely acoustic ensemble with crisp and clear vocals. Production and arrangement values were amazing. Songs included the Johnny Horton penned title track, in addition, a version of the Band’s, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” which Steve made sound as if it were his own. Another overlooked classic. ¬†The LP, is soulful and joyous, and includes five originals, including fresh recordings of two tracks from earlier LP’s. The recording was re-issued in 1994, amounting to somewhat of a comeback.

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Around this time, is when he made an appearance in the critically acclaimed music documentary. “Heartworn Highways” alongside ¬†such artists as Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and Rodney Crowell, all legendary performers in their own right. Steve performing a riveting acoustic version of his composition, “Alabama Highway”.

The film highlighted at the time, a new breed of artists, a group of non-conformists to the traditional Nashville image at the time. They influenced countless artists in the years that followed, and sparked a movement, that later became popular as Americana.

 

 

 

 

In 1976, he returned to Nashville and RCA to record, “Renegade Picker” and “No Place To Fall”, which were released in 1976, and 1977. Both produced by established Nashville producer Roy Dea. These releases were again met with virtually no airplay, despite soaring backup vocals by Tracy Nelson, and an exceptional set of songs by some of the best contemporary writers of the time, such as Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, ¬†J.J, Cale, Bob Dylan, and Steve Goodman, in addition to several of Young’s own contributions, including, yet another version of “Seven Bridges Road”. The production and arrangements were stellar. Both of these are lost gems, that deserve their rightful recognition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He did not record again until 1981, again for another small independent label. The LP was titled ,”Too Satisfy You” and included songs by Jesse Winchester, The Rolling Stones, Cat Stevens, Waylon Jennings, Buddy Holly, and his own composition, “The River And The Swan”. The LP was released by Rounder, which had been responsible for re-releasing the aforementioned, “Seven Bridges Road” and “Honky Tonk Man”.

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Without a label, he toured, which he had been doing for many years, in between LP releases. In Europe, he found an appreciative audience, and three LP’s, were issued during this time, “Old Memories”, a UK compilation of songs from his 77-78 ¬†RCA sessions.”Look Homeward Angel” and “Long Time Rider” were recorded in Norway in 1988 and 1990. They were somewhat of a departure from his previous acoustic based earlier works, employing synthesizers, and more experimentation with more¬†rhythm driven sound, co-produced with Norway’s, Jonas Fjeld. The band employed were from Norway. The songs on both albums are deeply intimate and personal, showing a maturity, an acceptance and an admission of a life of heartbreak and regrets. There remain traces of Southern and roots rock, rockabilly and honky-tonk, but these works show an artist willing to explore with new sounds and explore within himself. A man looking back, seeking forgiveness and redemption.

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In 1991, Steve found himself on yet another independent label, this time Watermelon. Two LP’s were released, “Solo Live” recorded¬†live at the Anderson Fair, in Houston Texas and “Switchblades Of Love”. “Solo/Live” contained an assortment of songs previously recorded, only two new songs; both traditional,”You Don’t Miss Your Water” and “Go To Sea No More”. Like the title implies, it is recorded live with just Steve and his guitar, which he is a master of and he demonstrates so well on here. Recorded in 1990, at the Anderson Fair, in Houston, Texas. ¬†On here is a longer version of, “Ballad Of William Sycamore” is included, with Steve giving introductions between songs, and relating some background information. On this recording you can hear the rapport that Steve has with his audience, ¬†he is truly a story-teller in song.

 

 

 

 

The second release, “Switchblades Of Love” includes an all-star cast of top rate musicians, including his son, Jubal and rockers Benmont Tench and Steve Soles, who also handled production. Continuing in the vein of his previous releases this is even more introspective, more confessional. These songs are daring and rocking, darker and deeper. All but one song was written by Steve, and one co-written with Tom Russell, the lovely, “Angel Of Lyon”. ¬†A second version of David Olney’s, “If My Eyes Were Blind”, and two cuts re-done from the, “Long Time Rider” LP.

Steve has often re-recorded his work on other LP’s, and each time it sounds as new and refreshing as any of his other versions. He breathes new life into them. Each version is a stand out, stand alone track. It demonstrates the unique talent and ability that Steve possessed. It isn’t often that an artist can take the same song and bring something new and different to it, to make it sound as rich and fresh as if newly written.

It is unfortunate, that most people are familiar with the Eagles version, never¬†having even heard Steve’s original version of it, or of him at all.

 

 

 

 

In 1997 the first retrospect of his long career was released. “Lonesome, On’ry And Mean” Containing songs from back to the days of Stone County, to the RCA sessions. An interesting and worthwhile retrospective for an introduction to Steve’s work.

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It would be a three-year interval, until he was picked up by yet another small label, Appleseed Records. He released, “Primal Young”, returning to his roots for the most part, with some gorgeous, but weary and sad sounding songs. Merle Haggard’s, “Sometimes I Dream” in particular sounds as if a man has lived his life and is completely broken, and t the traditional, “Little Birdie” ¬†which is especially poignant, yet hopeful; a man at peace. Covers of Tom T. Halls, “The Year Clayton Delaney Died” and Lloyd Price’s, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” are given a new life, He really makes them his own, as with Frankie Miller’s, “Blackland Farmer”. ¬†Two songs paying homage to his Appalachian and Scots roots. “Jig’ and “Scotland Is A Land” are more than worthy representations and delivered with passion and intensity, but a weariness. J.C Crowley’s strong production resulted in yet another superb collection, a collection of originals and covers. All the songs had a special meaning to Steve, as he explained in the extensive liner notes. He takes¬†the listener on a journey, not only from Appalachia and Scotland, but back in time itself.

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Two more LP’s would complete the catalog, “Songlines Revisted, Volume One”in 2006, an EP, “Australian Tour 2007”, and “Stories Around Horseshoe Bend” 2007.

He has guested, either guitar or vocals, on albums by Jim Post, ” I Love My Life”, Waylon Jennings, “Honky Tonk Heroes”, The Last Mile Ramblers, “While They ¬†Last”, ¬†Jim Connor “Personal Friend Of Arthur Kuykendall And Monk Daniel And Clancy Rakestraw”, Gene Clark ¬†& Carla Olson “Silhouted By Light”, Jon Gailmor “Gonna Die With A Smile If It Kills Me”, the compilation, “Tulare Dust: A Songwriters Tribute To Merle Haggard”, ¬†Jubal Lee Young’s “Not Another Beautiful Day”, The Homestead Act ,”Gospel Snake” and Shooter Jennings, “Countach”.

 

 

 

 

Throughout his career he toured extensively all over the world, he was especially popular in Europe. In 2004, he toured extensively through India. It was as much a spiritual tour as musical one. He was able to visit a place where he could explore and delve into his interest in Zen Buddhism, which he had gravitated to very early on.

 

 

 

 

Pictured above are some tour posters and handbills, the show pictured on the far right was cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.

 

Part of his restless nature, he continued ¬†with a life on the road. A veteran with many miles behind him. He was not one to stay still for long, the road always called. Later in his career, he frequently toured with his son Jubal Lee Young. Father and equally talented son, shined together and made a wonderful team. In 2015, Steve was on the sidelines to support ¬†Jubal, when he and his partner at the time appeared on NBC’s, The Voice.

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Steve and his son Jubal, had performed together as a duo on and off, for some time. Jubal recently married, was with his father when he passed. An equally impressive singer-songwriter in his own right. The legacy will continue.

One of his last performances was in 2015, he was a featured performer at the Country Music Hall Of Fame’s exhibit, “Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City”. He was also featured in a new version of “Heartworn Highways”, much like the original it featured a new breed of contemporary artists in the similar vein as those in the original 1975 feature. In it he reprised his original contribution with a new version of “Alabama Highway”.

 

 

 

 

I had the good fortune to have seen Steve perform at a private house party in December 1989, in Birmingham, Michigan. It could not have been a more intimate show. There were only about 20 of us there, and he was sitting on a stool, not more than a couple of feet from everyone. I remember him walking around the house and going in the refrigerator for a drink. I had my picture taken with him and was so nervous.  I had my boyfriend with me at the time, who also happened to be from Gadsden, he asked him to sign my copy of Rock, Salt And Nails. I still have that. It was a phenomenal show. He talked with my boyfriend about Gadsden. He was a really great guy. I can not imagine he made any profit doing  this show, but he was gracious and humble. It is a testament to his character, and his integrity as a dedicated artist.  He possessed those qualities, rare to find in most people, let alone one so gifted.

He struggled with demons, that are all to familiar to so many performers, but was able to overcome them,  and become a better, and stronger human being.  He found spirituality in Buddhism, which was a perfect fit for him.
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Van Dyke Parks, also a Southern transplant, wrote a song about him, “All The Golden” on his 1967 LP, “Song Cycle”. He ¬†also supplied a track for the 2000 TV movie, “Harlan County War”, the only instance I know of where Steve’s music has been used in a film.

Unlike other artists who have recently passed, Steve will largely go unnoticed, his contributions a footnote, but there are those of us who will remember his gifts. He will be missed. He lived his life, and played his music on his own terms, ever the free spirit. Somewhere he is soaring high, roaming the wild skies and joyously alive.

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I feel fortunate to have been able to have seen him, and have heard him perform. It was an unbelievable evening ¬†A true artist and legend is gone. Condolences to Steve’s family and friends. He is survived by his mother; Dixie, son; Jubal, three grand-daughters; brother Kim; and niece Amy, and her three children.

Special thanks to Kim Young, for his time and kindness.

 

Apologies for uncredited photos.

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One  of the last photos of Steve playing after his accident.

 

 

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33 thoughts on “Steve Young: Renegade Picker, A Tribute

  1. A wonderful tribute. Christine and I were lucky enough to see Steve Young at a small club here in the UK in the early 90s. He signed our copy of ‘Solo Live’ We also remember him fondly. Regards Mark.

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    1. Hi Mark, thank you. I was surprised that I recieved any feeback at all. I am getting likes, but somehow I think people are liking without even knowing who he was. I felt compelled to write something, since Steve’s music had meant so much to me. Hearing of his passing reminded me of just what a loss he was. It is nice to hear from another fan. He signed my LP reissue of, “Rock, Salt and Nails”. It was an experience seeing him up so close and intimately, in that performance that night. I wish I would have talked to him more, but I respected him so much, I wanted to give him his privacy, so I kept my distance.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Seeing him in a such a small venue, made it even more special. I don’t think he understood his stature. If he had attained success on a bigger scale, I think he would have retreated from it. He was too down to earth for that. I have, Solo/Live on cassette. I like it very much because it captures him as he was in person

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      1. Yes I agree about the smaller venues, so much more intimate and he had such a soulful voice. I actually didn’t know about his death until seeing your piece but we have been listening to ‘Rock Salt and Nails again just recently. I’m sure the music press here in the UK will be paying tribute as well. My best to you and regards Mark.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I heard about it on Facebook, one of the sites I follow. He also has a fan site on there. I know Steve did a lot of touring overseas and recording there. He claimed he liked to tour, most artists get sick of it. Well this show he did when I saw him must have been his smallest venue ever. I was literally a couple of feet away. I listened to all the CD’s of his that I have on Saturday. My little tribute.

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    1. You saw Steve at Dave Brogren’s house concert in 1989 in Royal Oak, MI. He played there several more times, until the mid-2000s (2005?) Steve did not play for no profit, the time you saw him at Brogrens or any times after. that. Steve had, in the music business, what is called a guarantee; that is, he is is paid set amount of money, regardless of attendance. If attendance revenue is more than guarantee, Steve receives that amount, plus guarantee. I’ve been Steve’s friend and booking agent for 14 years, and if you send me you email address thru message on my facebook page, I will be happy to clarify some items. Or email me at circleagency@earthlink.net.

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      1. Hi June, would you like me to remove them? I will if that is what you want, but if not, I will certainly credit the person who took them.
        I was trying to cover his career to the fullest extent. I thought the posters would be a cool idea, I really just started writing, I consider myself an amateur at best, so I am not all that familiar with what I am and am not supposed to do. I do not want to do something wrong or offend anyone. I would be happy to either remove, or give credit to the photographer, or remove any content that is not correct.
        I had forgotten the name of the guy that had hosted the show, but now that you mentioned it. I remember, La Casa, I believe is what they had called it.
        I personally did not know Dave, a friend of mine at the time did, and that is how I knew about the show, I went with them. There had to be five or six of us that went together. Now that I know he did other shows there, and I missed them I feel bad. I know there weren’t many people, but I liked it that way. I assumed Steve was just in town and knew Dave, and was doing it for him.
        I have seen you on Steve’s Facebook page, and read your comments. I will contact you shortly.

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    1. Hi Wordly, thanks for reading and appreciate your comment. Yes, it’s unfortunately true, we are losing a lot of good ones this year. Most people don’t really know who Steve was. Most people just kind of discovered him on their own. He was one of my favorites.

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  3. You are so right Alex. He has always been a favorite, but while they are alive you tend to take it for granted, but we are all getting up their in age. I don’t know about you, but I am 53, so seeing all these people go that I grew up with is kind of scary.
    You are right about keeping their music and legacies alive, but for someone like Steve, who really did not get much recognition, it is a bit different. I do see an outpouring of comments on his Facebook pages and on the youtube videos, so I am glad that he is being remembered, and hopefully can be re-discovered by newer fans and newer generations.

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  4. I wanted to thank you for this well written and quite complete tribute to my brother Steve. It covers a lot of ground and material for the length of the article, you did a fine job indeed. Obviously a knowledgeable follower of his music, your sincerity certainly shows through. Just to note, one small thing jumped out at me however, and that was the listing of some of the guest artists on his second album, James Burton, Gram Parsons and Gene Clark. They were actually on Steve’s first album, “Rock, Salt & Nails” on A & M, recorded in Hollywood in 1969, not the original 1972 Reprise album. I could be wrong, but I don’t think Ry Cooder was on either of those albums, but I know that Steve did a few other tracks for Reprise that Ry Cooder played in the early 70’s and I believe a couple of singles were issued from that effort, although I cannot remember the exact details about them now. In some ways it seemed that Steve passed away rather quickly but in another way he didn’t…..time is a strange thing sometimes. Steve had not been in the best of health for a while before his fall and afterward just never really recovered, sadly. We all knew he would not want to linger in a condition where he couldn’t really be himself or be self sufficient, and thankfully he didn’t have to endure that for long. As you mentioned he is free to travel a new and unseen road now. Just so you know, there will be a memorial service, or rather a celebration of Steve’s life here in Nashville on May 2nd at the BMI Building at 10 Music Square East from 5:30 to 7:30/8:00. It hasn’t exactly been opened to the public just yet, but we may do that. If by chance you could attend you would be most welcome. Thank you again! Kim

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    1. Hi Kim, thanks so much for writing me and I appreciate you taking the time to do that. I can’t believe I made such a glaring mistake. I know I meant “Rock Salt And Nails”. I have a copy in front of me as I am writing this. Cooder is not listed on that, so I am mistaken on that as well. I will definitely edit that. I do not want to have an inaccurate article regarding Steve, I would not want to get anything wrong about him or his music. It is a real honor for me to hear from you, and to be invited as well. I have talked to you on Facebook. I asked you about a group, I already forgot the name. I think it was the Timberland Four. I was asking on Steve’s page, if anyone had heard of it, and if the Steve Young was in it, was THE, Steve Young. You responded, that you didn’t think so. Just checked my Rounder re-release, Cooder is on that one. I know the original was recorded with mostly Nashville session guys. The second release on Blue Canyon, had the Last Mile Ramblers, but they weren’t very well known, at least not nationally. I also forgot to mention Paul Tannen had produced the original “Seven Bridges Road”. I want to add that as well. I would love to attend, it would mean a lot to me. I don’t know if I will be able to get down there. I live in Michigan. I still find it hard to believe he is gone. It’s really sobering to know that some crazy freak accident can happen and can take someone away like that. I keep hearing about everyone that has been passing lately, and I feel bad, because Steve had so much, much more depth, he was the real thing. He had genuine soul, and you could hear it, and feel it. His music got me through so many hard times.
      I am so sorry that he had to suffer like he did. I know it was hard for him, and the family. I am very proud of Jubal for taking care of Steve after all of this had happened, and being there for him. At least they were able to spend some time together, and Steve could not have been in better hands. Jubal has been doing a great job with the arrangements to honor him, even though I am sure that he is still grieving. I am happy for him over his marriage, but it’s such a shame that Steve was unable to share with Jubal that happiness that he had taken so long to find. He truly went full circle, but it worked out for him, and I am glad for that. I know it must be hard for you as well.I am glad I got to meet him, the one time that I did, I will always treasure that. There are not to many artists that were so accessible as Steve, he was rare and one of a kind. I feel good knowing that he is out among the stars. Somewhere he is shining bright as ever. I will edit the piece, and thank you for bringing it to my attention, I feel bad that I did that, especially since I knew that. Thank you Kim.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I must say that with the length and depth of your article that wasn’t such a huge error, just a touch mis-placed, no worries, but thanks for the edit. I remember the Timberland Four question, but didn’t recall that you were the same person that also wrote this tribute, sorry about that. Steve was an incredible, one of a kind artist, he was and is often under rated and over looked by many I’m sorry to say. However, many did recognize his gift and his brilliance, such as yourself, and that is much appreciated. I wished that all of his music was a bit more accessible, but some of it is very hard to find, like the recordings he did in Norway on “Look Homeward Angel”, etc. The “Long Time Rider” album was not well received by some of his fans but it’s one of my favorites actually. Some people just didn’t know what to make of that one as it was so different from anything he had ever done, much more spiritual. Steve was also a master at adaptation and could often make another persons song his own as if he wrote it himself, but you understand this. Sadly, Steve was struggling quite a bit before his major fall actually. He had been diagnosed with dementia symptoms, was having some memory problems and had been having balance issues for some time, then his major fall at home really did some damage. The unusual thing about that fall was that an old friend of his just happened to be spending the night in his spare bedroom and after he had started up the stairs she heard him fall, called 911 and then me. It was rather unusual for anyone to be spending the night at his house in the first place. Apparently she was supposed to be there.

        Here’s another quite unusual story and I guess you can take from it what you will. He didn’t speak of it much anymore, but in earlier days Steve was fascinated by the civil war and was very knowledgeable about it. At some point years ago he became convinced that he was the reincarnation of a civil war soldier named John Pelham. I don’t remember the details of exactly how he came to believe this however. Sometimes referred to as “The Gallant Pelham”, he was an artillery expert and an innovator although just a young man and he received much notice and praise from people like Stonewall Jackson whom he served under. Anyway, Steve knew a lady that was a descendent of General Joe Jackson and they had shared civil war stories etc. She knew about Steve and John Pelham and sent Steve’s son Jubal a message after Steve passed on. She said that John Pelham was killed in the civil war on March 17th, 1863, and Steve passed away on March 17th as well. Coincidence or not? It’s certainly interesting and when I heard that I felt a little shiver run up my spine.

        I realize that coming from Michigan would be a long trip and completely understand that you might not be able to come to the memorial, but if you can that would be great. We should be recording it and hopefully can also stream it live online for anyone that interested but cannot be there in person. I’m hoping that will take place and there should be an announcement about it if it’s going to happen. There should be some good stories/memories and quite a bit of music as well. Steve’s wishes were to be cremated and his ashes scattered on the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii near where a friend of his lived. We will see that that takes place some time in the future. Thank you very much for writing this tribute to Steve and for responding to my message. Take care. All the best, Kim

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Well, I typed up a response to your comments above and lost it, so I had to start all over. I hope I can remember what I wrote. Thanks again for sharing with me some personal details. Your sharing them with me, means a lot. When I used to read articles about Steve, I could really identify with the way he felt, even though I am a female and much younger. I felt a kindred spirit to him, even though I am not a musician. I consider myself an excellent judge of quality material when I hear it,and when I first heard version two of, “Seven Bridges Road” I knew that he was one of a kind. That was the first LP of his that I bought. I found it at a used record store it was a promo, but in bad shape. It was a dollar. I had been a Gram fan first, that is really how I found Steve, but Steve, was by far, so much more dimensional than Gram.

    I have heard him mention the Pelham story, I am not sure where I read that. I am aware of who he was. I did not realize their deaths coinsided I think he would have been comforted by that, and felt like he was going home, and at peace and rest.

    I also had an interest in the Civil War, the Confederate side, albeit politically incorrect these days. I have no doubt that Steve was Pelham in another life. He had that spirit, that air about him of an old soul. He would have fit perfectly in that time. He had a touch of the wild and untamed in him, like the South itself, with it’s dark and haunted history. I imagine his spirit roaming the woods and hills, along with the Cherokee, and the ghosts of those who gave their lives on the battlefields of the South. Steve expressed it so well in his song. We’ve Been Together On This Earth Before”.
    I have been to Gadsden once in 1991. I remember driving down 75 to Chattanooga, crossing over into that little section of Georgia, and then hitting the Alabama border. It was late at night, and we were on Lookout Mountain. It was foggy as it often is up there at night, and I had popped in a cassette of Steve’s, and we were listening to, “Alabama Highway”. It was mystical, and I can still remember that night, and that song.

    I love the South, the history and culture, I always have. My ancestors were originally from Natural Bridge, Virginia, so I assumed they were Confederates somewhere in the family, but they ran off to West Virginia, and wanted no part of the war. I was a little disappointed to find that out.
    Yes, that was me that asked about that group on Facebook. I also asked if Steve had known Alan Watts, since he was into Zen and living near Alan at the time, and about the song form the Harlan County War movie.

    I did not know that Steve was sick previous to the fall had read something on Facebook, but I thought it was an illness or he had an operation of some kind, but now that you mention it, in some of the last videos of him performing before the accident, there was a look in his eyes, kind of vacant, like he wasn’t there.
    I am glad someone was there with him when it happened, or it could have been much different.

    I have all of his music, the only one I don’t have is the 45, “Call Me Up In Dreamland”. I have never heard it, and always wondered how good it was. I don’t have the Richard And Jim LP either. I can honestly say that there is not an album that he ever did that I dislike. The European stuff was different, but that is not a bad thing. The songs were as strong as ever, in fact they had a quality about them that made them richer and more personal and open then ever.I found them to be honest and refreshing. The only thing that was different was the music itself. It was a bit edgier and experimental with the instruments, but it fit the songs well. It was a bold move, and he was right to do so.
    I think it was a natural progression for him to want to explore and experiment with something a little different. It is after all a natural thing to do; to want to move and grow, especially someone of his nature. He expanded and added a different dimension to his repertoire. His songwriting was really intense and deep there.
    I would come to the memorial if I thought my car would make it, that is how strong I feel about Steve. If I can find a ride I would gladly come. I hope that it is recorded or streamed, please post any news on one of the Facebook sites.

    I am surprised about his choice of Hawaii for his ashes to be spread. I had thought maybe Scotland, but Hawaii, it’s almost like paradise, so it is a fitting choice.
    I hope he is happy and at peace now, and that he is playing somewhere in the stars.
    This world was richer for him being in it. He really affected and touched many people.

    You are also correct about his song covers, he made them his own. I admire and respect all the artists that he chose to cover over the years. He did justice to them all, and added his own flavor to them. He knew a good song, it didn’t matter who wrote it. If he liked it he gave it his special touch of magic. I remember the show he did, and how he told stories about the songs he was performing. He really reached out to the people that were there to see him. I have seem him do the same in videos, so he was like that all the time. He respected and appreciated his audience.

    I could write more about it, but I don’t want to take up your time. Once again sir, it is a honor to have had this conversation with you about your brother. He is and will be missed. Thank you for reading my article and bringing my mistake to my attention.

    I hope I can catch a ride there, it would be a pleasure to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for a fine tribute to Steve. He never sought praise, but I know he’d be secretly pleased.

    You have such a complete collection of photos, including some I don’t have. I wonder if it would be possible to send me copies (I don’t seem to be able to save them). I was surprised to see the flyer I made for the opening of Amazing Grace Music! I probably hadn’t seen that in thirty years! My address is tcnewkirk@gmail.com

    Thanks again for the memory journey.

    –Terrye

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Terrye, thanks but I got the picture off of Facebook. I think you are thinking I am someone else. If you go through all of Steve’s Facebook pages you will see them. You can save them by clicking your mouse and then hitting save picture. I am not sure if that is what you meant, by not being able to save them.
      When I saw the picture of the flyer from the store I was really excited to see such a peace of history. I am glad someone saved it. Did you and Steve ever meet Alan Watts? I may be getting the areas mixed up, were you by Druid Heights, because that is where Alan lived? Thanks Terrye. So sorry for the loss of Steve, it has really bothered me, and I didn’t even know him personally, but his spirit was strong,and touched many.

      Like

    2. One the photos,second row, middle image — solo shot of Steve from Hamm Jam, when Steve and I were in Wisconsin Rapids, WI — is from my FB page. Going forward, I will attribute the pictures to photographer. I know, I should have realized someone else could use it. Will be posting other pix from my collection and Steve’s collection. Also, to set record straight, gig shown on poster for July 17, 2014, at Cafe Paradiso was cancelled about a month prior to show because of scheduling conflict at venue. Photo of Steve sitting on wall outside on Pioneer Pavillion, in Yougstown, OH, was taken by Tom Sailor.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. <> Last Mile Ramblers Well Jim, sorry I finally saw my mistake, I don’t know where I came up with that one. Maybe I was thinking of The New Lost City Ramblers, or The Red Clay Ramblers. I corrected that.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I found the mistake, sorry about that. I am really bad at typing, and have been doing this with very little sleep, and not too make too many more excuses I can’t see that well. I really need to spell check and edit something before I post it.

        Like

  8. Thanks you for your long and insightful reply. I believe that you really “get” a lot of what Steve was about, his music and abilities, much more so than most people, you express your thoughts very well and obviously you are extremely knowledgeable concerning Steve’s music, I really appreciate that. Steve was certainly the biggest and most important musical influence for me and I was proud to have sung on a number of his recordings over the years. I am going to post this article to his memorial page so more people can read it as I think it’s well worth their time. I imagine that you’ve read the Frank Gutch Jr. article from No Depression about Steve, it’s the only other long, complete one on Steve that I know about. Interesting that you have the Gadsden, AL connection. I was born in Gadsden and of course Steve and I spent a lot of time there with my mom and grand parents who owned a home in Gadsden. The story about coming into Alabama listening to Alabama Highway is a cool one, thanks for sharing that! I think that I have that 45 somewhere that you mentioned, although I haven’t heard it in a while. I always thought it was pretty good, but I don’t think Steve was real impressed with it at the end of the day. I don’t have the Richard and Jim album either and I don’t think I have the Stone Country album anymore, not sure. Jim Connor from the old Richard and Jim duo will be at the memorial.

    By the way, it doesn’t appear that the memorial will be streamed after all, however we do plan on recording it and then as soon as possible we will post it to YouTube, etc. so that everyone can see it. Please come on down for it if you can. I’ve very much enjoyed our conversation about Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well the show in 1989 was in Birmingham, MI not Royal Oak (a block away). I produced la casa music series from 1986 to 2005. Steve indeed played for money, per a contract, but his shows for me were entirely more personal, as all in attendance testify. But he was like a brother/ father/ spiritual adviser to me. I am heartbroken at his passing, and treasure our friendship and the many shows we did together. I still have copies of all his la casa shows, and they are consistently great. Your article is very very well done, bravo. Who was your boyfriend? I am now farming and we are thinking about calling the place Seven Bridges Farm in honor of Steve…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hi David, thanks for responding, for some reason I thought it was Royal Oak, I’m going to have to correct that.
      I only went to the 89 show. I didn’t know that he had made return appearances there. I wish I would have known about it, because I would have made it a point to come.
      I remember we had snow that night, and it was cold.
      I had come with another couple, Mary and Todd Harden, and her brother Marty Bens. They were the ones who found out about the show. I don’t remember how it all came about.
      My boyfriend at the time, was a guy named Mike Cody, who was also from the Gadsden, Alabama area. He talked to Steve for a few minutes, and was mentioning something about the town. I remember Steve going in the refrigerator for something to drink.
      It was such an intimate setting. For me to be sitting a few feet away from Steve. I could never imagine that happening with anyone else other than Steve. You were fortunate to have known him as well as you did, and to have such a close relationship with him. He seems to have had a profound and deep impact on everyone he met.He had that aura and mystique about him, but also, friendly genuine and down to earth. Someone you would naturally gravitate to.I bet he had a sense of humor too.
      I find it amazing that you were able to have that kind of relationship with him. He was truly generous and gifted, and I haven’t heard anyone say anything bad about him. He seemed to be a real friend to so many people, and that really is a testament to his character. I hope he knew how much he meant to so many people.
      Those tapes you have are real treasures, he could never do anything less than great to us. We have good taste. His music has just been so much of my life, and got me through good and bad times.
      Since you say you are farming, I am assuming you have moved, and most likely out of Michigan. I think that is an excellent idea to name your farm after the song.
      It was nice of you to write, I am glad you liked what I wrote. I am not what you would consider a professional writer. I just started this blog late last year, and it is mostly poetry. When Steve passed I just had a flood of emotions and I felt like writing something, if not for anyone, but myself. I may have got a few things wrong, I hope that I did not make too many mistakes. I think I may have used photos that I wasn’t supposed to. I really didn’t think about it when I did it. I know the majority of people who subscribe to my blog have no idea who he was. I hope that you moved down south. I wanted to move there, but it didn’t work out for me, but Mike, my ex-boyfriend is down there. He went home to Alabama. He is buried in Skirrum. We broke up in 1995. He liked Steve too. When I first met him, I thought he looked a lot like Steve, so every time I see a picture of Steve, I think of him. They really looked a lot alike, and maybe that is another reason why I felt so bad about Steve, especially the way he went.
      I know so many people are missing him because he touched so many with his kindness, loyalty and humbleness. He will not be forgotten. Are you going to his memorial if they have one?

      Like

    2. David, Thanks for the info on these shows you were putting together. If you have any recording that you would be interested in sharing, I would be interested and I suspect that his son Jubal would be as well. I like the idea of the farm name…..nice. Jubal is now living with his new wife on a small farm here in TN on the outside of Nashville.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Just a note….When Jim Terr mentioned The Last Mile Ramblers in his comments he was referring the name of the band associated with him and the Blue Canyon label that Jim owned. Steve did some gigs and performed with them for a while and I believe they recorded one track that was added to that album. Jim Terr would be the one to ask about any of this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kim, I was wondering what he meant.I found the mistake, as I said in previous post I did mention them in the article, but I did not mention Jim. I actually had that album, and that one is gone as well.
      I was answering your earlier message, and got up for a few minutes, and my computer shut down, and I lost the entire message. The same thing happened the last time I was writing you. That is weird. Now I have to try and remember what I wrote again.
      Ok, I will give it a go once more and I can’t get up again. I have Stone Country on LP, and I have the Golden Rocket 45. I don’t have the Richard and Jim. I had Switchblades and Too Satisfy You, but they are missing. I am pretty sure my ex-boyfriend got them. I wanted to mention the producer of Too Satisfy You. I think the producer plays a real important role in the sound of the music that comes out on tape. I know Steve hasn’t always been satisfied with what he has done, but I think, I know he was way to hard on himself. He never cut a bad track.
      I have seen your comments on youtube and facebook. It’s really nice of you to respond to them. I think we are all so devoted to him and want to claim him. We all feel close to him, and think of him as our own treasure. I am glad that he was the guy he was, genuine and real. That picture of him on the 2nd Seven Bridges Road LP, I think that picture captured him so well. He could have been Pelham there, but I don’t think Pelham smoked. Bad habit Steve! I hope he quit. I love that picture. He just has a look on his face, so laid back. I have always loved the south for as long as I can remember; the south, the Civil War, and the Cherokee. At one time I had a really large collection of books. All Confederate related of course. I even subscribed to Confederate Veteran magazine. They say we have Native American blood going way back, but I have never been able to validate that. Every one wants to be Cherokee.
      Yes, I read the No Depression article. I don’t remember when I read it, but it was awhile ago, and I did use some of his pictures. I hadn’t looked at the article in awhile so when I did look at it, I was thinking damn. I set mine up like he did with the same pictures. I had not planned on putting it on Steve’s page. I was just going to put it on my blog. His article is a really long and informative one, I could not write anything like that. Of course he actually interviewed him, and he is a real writer. I don’t even claim to be a writer of any kind. I am actually embarrassed that I could not do better justice by him with it, but I really don’t know a lot about the technical part of music, or even writing about it. I wrote it more as from a fans perspective. I knew that the followers of my blog would not have a clue who he was. There was one guy, that said he had seen him. He was from Europe of course. I wanted to remember him and writing that helped me do that. I hope that it turns some people on to him that haven’t heard of him. I tried very hard to make that article more of a personal thing, but then when I write, I tend to keep going and going. I think I have the Thomas Wolfe syndrome. Thanks Steve! Where ever you are for turning me on to him. I know it’s not typical girl fare literature, but I loved it, I still do.

      But back to my article for a moment. I hope that he is not mad that I used the pictures. I didn’t even think about it when I did it. I don’t want him to think I was ripping him off. I had planned on doing the album covers like he did.
      I feel kind of bad about it now that I see how my page is set out like his, that was really not intentional. There really aren’t a lot of pictures of Steve. I did edit it somewhat today, after June had written me. I would give credit to whomever had taken the photos had I known I was supposed to, as I was saying I am not a professional writer. Most of my blog just has my sophomoric attempts at poetry. I can’t really write anything else and feel very confident about it.
      I was like Steve I hated school. I just hated it, now I am sorry that I did, but Steve was smart and learned a lot more not being there.

      I have a cassette tape from 1986, it is from the Anderson Fair. It has nine songs by Steve, and a short interview. The sound quality is poor. It has pretty much the same songs as the Solo Live. I forgot I had it, and today I went looking for it, and I found it. I haven’t played it in years, will do that later. I don’t remember who I got it from. It also has Tom Russell on it doing that song for Gram, Joshua Tree. I think I got it from a guy down there in Texas, that I used to write to. He was into Gram and Steve. I am glad that it did not get lost.

      I remember watching Steve as a guest on the Nashville Network’s, Bobby Bare And Friends show, when he was on there with David Alan Coe. The youtube version isn’t the full show, and the audio and video are really poor quality, but I am glad it is up. It is good to see Steve so young, charming and articulate. Compared to David who was a good singer song-writer, but so flamboyant, flashy and arrogant at times. I know some of it must have been an act. I am sure Steve did not have anything bad to say about him.

      I also seem to remember him doing a half hour program on the Nashville Network. I think it was called, New Country. It wasn’t on very long, maybe one season, but it was a different artist every night doing songs off their new releases. I think Steve was on there promoting the re-release of Honky Tonk Man.
      I may be getting that mixed up with an appearance on the show Ralph Emery hosted. There was a two videos on youtube up for awhile from one of those shows. I think it was Emery’s show, because I remember it was the shows house band playing behind him.

      Yes, I knew that you had played on a few of his LP’s. I’m glad he gave you the opportunity to get in a studio and record. Brothers have to stick together, and help each other out.
      I really thought that Steve and Tracy Nelson sounded fantastic together, I think she added so much to those sessions. I don’t know if that was his idea or not, but her vocals and his meld into an almost ecstasy. Betsy Kaske wasn’t bad either, but Tracy can really sing the blues.

      A point about Gram, Gram is really responsible for me finding Steve. Once I did, I was hooked, and although I love Gram, there is no comparison between them. I almost feel bad for saying that, but Steve was a writers, writer. He had depth, he was a poet. I think; no, I know, he was smarter too. More introspective. If Gram had lived it would have been interesting to see what he would have done.

      I didn’t actually make it to Gadsden when I was there. We drove through. We stayed in Crossville, that was where the family reunion was. I think he had some relatives in either Geraldine or Valley Head, there were some in Albertsville too. I don’t really remember their names. I know one cousin was named Donnie, and he was always in trouble with the law. The other cousin lived in Crossville, they owned a restaurant, and the husband hauled gasoline. Her name was Kat, don’t remember the last name. I know they were Monroe’s and Dove’s. Mike’s dads last name was Cody, and he was from Rome Georgia. Mike was 3/4 Cherokee. He was born down there, but actually grew up here in the Detroit area. He moved down there later for a time.
      I remember that trip still so vividly, almost like I was in the backseat again, driving on the mountain, in the dark, in the fog listening to Steve sing about Alabama. I waited until we were close to Alabama to play it. I turned him on to Steve, he hadn’t heard of him either, and he was an older guy born in 1950.

      I really loved it down there. I would move there in a minute if I could. I feel at home there. I feel like I belong there. I don’t know what it is, but I get a feeling that is hard to explain.
      I wanted to see Guntersville and Noccalula Falls. Didn’t make the Falls, but went to Guntersville in the pitch dark. I remember seeing the chicken houses with the lights in them and asking him, what the hell are those? There was another place, I think it was a park or some place we were going to go, but it was too late and we were only there for a weekend for that family reunion.
      I believe at the time Alabama the band, was still big, and we drove right through Fort Payne. I never really liked them. I like the obscure, non-commercial stuff.
      We did go to a place called High Falls. It was in the middle of nowhere, but all the locals knew about it. A train used to go over the little stream that was there, the old supports were still standing, they were probably dated from the Civil War era. The falls themselves weren’t very big, but the water felt nice and cool on a hot day.
      I broke up with him in 1995, he had some serious problems. He died in 2007, and is buried in Skirrum.

      I know that Steve must have named Jubal, after Jubal Early, but I believe Jubal in later years was not happy with Lee. I am not sure if I am remembering that right. I know those idiots on the Voice did not know it was Jubal Lee. They all thought it was Jubilee. I’m surprised he didn’t name Jubal, Jeb Stuart.
      Oh, I also heard from Dave Brogen, the guy who had the private house party here in 89. He told me he had Steve there several times. I am so bummed out that I did not know he was playing there. I missed him. I bet he was not to fond of this area. When I saw him, it was cold and snowing.
      It’s pretty cool though that Steve could actually go out and not really be mobbed by fans. I am sure he did run into people that knew who he was.
      My favorite Confederate officers were John Hunt Morgan and Lt Charles Read. I guess I like the dashing cavalry and naval figures. Oh,and Stand Watie, can’t forget about him. I think he was the last to surrender, and a Native American Chief. I know the tribe was fighting their own Civil War amongst each other over what side to take.I haven’t talked about the Civil War in years. Thinking about Jubal, and Jubal Early made me think of that again. I hope Steve comes back as someone special again. He had some strong karma.

      I think I talk too much. I don’t know how you find the time to answer everyone that wants to ask you about Steve. There are so many people that have been affected by his passing, people that knew him and people that never met him. I hear everyone talking about Prince, and I am thinking to myself, not even in the same league. I think Steve had just the right degree of fame to do what he wanted and make a living at it, and see the world. If you are really famous it’s just more pressure. I don’t really think he was cut from that mold.
      I better send this out now. I would have sent this sooner, but I had to re-do it. Thanks so much Kim, you are a real gentleman, just like Steve. It was nice talking to you. Hope I can see you guys, and be there for the Memorial. I appreciate you even asking me. It really is an honor.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike, I thought I had answered this, but apparently I did not hit the send button and lost it, so I had to rewrite it, now I don’t remember everything I said. Thanks for liking my article.
      I wholeheartedly agree with you about Steve. He was one of a kind and irreplaceable. I started writing that a few days after I heard about Steve’s passing. My blog is mostly all poetry, because I am really not that good at writing other things.
      I wanted to write it more from the perspective of a fan, but then I started making it longer and longer.
      A much better article and more in depth is on Steve’s Facebook page, it is from No Depression. I have to admit I used his pictures, or at least some of them, and I did the same layout with the LP’s.
      Steve was unique and one of a kind. We lost a treasure with his passing.
      I don’t know how to express this, but I feel that fans of Steve’s are all a big family. We all love and appreciated the man and his talents. We had him all to ourselves. He never had to deal with extreme fame, just enough, to let him do what he loved, travel the world and live comfortably. He seems to have made friends where ever he went, very easy going, and humble. You’re really not going to find a big so called star, that had the humbleness of Steve.
      I do talk, or I should say write a lot, but in person, I am for the most part quiet as a mouse.

      Liked by 1 person

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