I'll Never Forget It - 1/30/2012

I got through the song the night before in Ithaca with less trouble than I imagined I would. Leading up to and immediately following Dad's death, I told myself I'd never sing "Farm of Yesterday" again. How could I? I cried when I wrote it. It tore my heart out to write it and I've found myself getting choked up many times on stage, remembering. I fought back emotions in places I knew my father would never see, like Ireland or California. I thought about it all day on Friday, knowing it was one of our most popular songs, knowing that some diehard fans would be waiting to see if we'd do it or not, and wondering if Leigh would want to do it. Leigh has been licking his wounds as well. Leigh and I have been through so much together, but the past few weeks was like nothing we'd been through before. I thought our bond was tight before. It was nothing like it is now. I hadn't even brought up the song to him, but towards the end of our last set at La Tourelle Resort, I asked, "What about 'Farm of Yesterday.'" He nodded and put a capo on his guitar. The band played it beautifully and we got through it. I steeled myself to a degree and we got a beautiful response. I had made up my mind that I wouldn't quit paying tribute to him. We gave him his flowers while he was living and would continue with him gone. Leigh said that he wondered if I wanted to do it and was glad that we did.

Saturday night was different. For one thing, Chazy is only a half hour or so from Ellenburg Depot. There were 600 or so people packed into the auditorium, a lot of them people who have supported us for twenty years now. Mom was in the front row. Dad was not. I tried not to look at Mom too much. She is such a strong woman and she laughed at all the typical Leigh/Eric foolishness. She has always done that, laughing at times when she really shouldn't have. I love her for it. Nearing the end of the show, I again asked Leigh. This time he announced the song and I saw those sad eyes that I've seen for weeks. Dad's eyes. I made the mistake of looking at Mom and my heart went even heavier. The song kicked in, and this time my voice was full of emotion, maybe too much. By the end of the second verse, some of the notes were breaking in the middle, but there was no question we were back on the farm with that strong man, that great man who never felt good enough...he should know we saw him as a king and we still do...the words were battering my already broken heart.

During Joe's mandolin solo, I gathered myself together. I could feel Dad telling me to toughen up. I delivered that final verse with power and pride and I felt Leigh do the same thing on the final chorus, a true tribute to a man and wife who made it through a lot of tough times. It felt good. When we played the song's last chord, the audience rose to its feet and I realized that I was shaking and that the tears were flowing as those kind folks poured out their hearts. I wasn't the only one. Many in the audience had read the obituary, had heard the song many times before, and they were telling us something with their ovation. We are one lucky band to have made a connection with people down through the years, people who feel like they know us through our music, that they know our family through our music. It has not been a product of any kind of phony marketing plan. Leigh and I will never forget that moment, and I know the rest of the band won't either. I cannot adequately express gratitude to those people for the moment they gave to us and to our mother.