Jazz and Pop, Youth and Middle Age like Young

By Francis Davis | Go to book overview

Man Lost. Songs Found

I'm listening to Ted Hawkins sing "There Stands the Glass"—the words torn from his throat, though they were not even his—and remembering the one time I heard him sing it live, at the Bottom Line in New York City, seven or eight months before his death from the effects of a stroke on the first day of 1995. The show, called "In Their Own Words" and hosted by the disc jockey Vin Scelsa, was one of a series presented by the club, the idea being for a bunch of singer-songwriters—in this case Hawkins, Roger McGuinn, Pete Seeger, and Joe South—to sit around swapping songs, yarns, and insights into the creative process. At one point, after South had spoken about his session work and about writing "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" for Lynn Anderson, after McGuinn had told of collaborating with lyricists by phone or fax, and after Seeger had led the packed house in a sing-along, Scelsa turned to Hawkins, who had been sitting there all evening as though waiting for a bus—stirring himself only when it was his turn to sing.

"How about you, Ted?" Scelsa asked, playing the good host and trying to lure Hawkins into the conversation. "Ever collaborate with anybody on a song? Or write a song with somebody by fax?"

"No," Hawkins replied, giving him the same thousand-yard stare he had been giving the tables all night.

Scelsa must have posed other questions, and Hawkins must have answered them. I honestly can't recall anything he said, and I'm uncertain what else he sang. All I remember for sure, other than that "no," is the sight of him warily sitting there on his stool with his hands draped

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