For three days, I’ve been walking around with a card in my purse. A note and a picture to send to my friend, Duane Jarvis, who’s been fighting cancer and recently moved to an apartment at the beach near Los Angeles to wait things out.
Duane was one of the coolest people in Nashville when I moved down there almost ten years ago. He and Denise, his wife at the time, put me and my daughter up in their cute house on the east side of town. When our car died, Duane loaned me his snazzy late 70’s cruiser, until I got the money together to buy something else.
I’d first seen him playing guitar with Lucinda Williams. He always dressed sharp but not showy, like his playing. A Ray Davies-style pinstripe jacket, or tailored Western shirt, black jeans and those sturdy Australian boots, the outback version of Beatle boots. Great hair! I don’t know why I’m talking about something so superficial as appearance, because DJ was a deep guy. I say was, and I still can’t believe it, as I write this. Whatever I write is not going to do him justice. How do you sum up a person in a few paragraphs? Duane passed away last night.
I feel lucky to have known him, to have rocked and written with him. We did lots of gigs together, talked about so many things. New Hope to New York, Knoxville to Nashville, San Francisco to Portland. Late night drives, I’d be ranting and raving – I don’t think I ever heard him say a cross word. Maybe he knew it was all so temporary.
He had a spare, soulful style of playing that always complemented, underscored – never got in the way. And he was sweet, and kind. Class.
I wish I could’ve talked to him this past week. I wish I’d gotten the card to him. I left a voicemail for him, but before I did I got to hear his voice one more time, on the outgoing message. He sounded so calm, like always. Whatever battles he was fighting, he stayed positive.
Temporary? He’s all over the place, on records he made and played on, forever. And the way that everybody who knew and loved him is connected to everyone else who knew and loved him. His family, his Nashville gang, L.A. friends, fans, Portland people, all the clubs in all the towns. Notes, tones, songs, memories – floating around out there.
But damn, it makes me sad.