Saturday, May 09, 2009
Stephen Bruton was one of the first people to welcome me to Austin in the Fall of 1996. I was in awe of him because of his musical skills and resume, but those things were more important to me than to him. From his point of view, I was a newcomer, a guest, and he was a host and guide, and he wanted to make sure I was at ease.
There was no doubt that Bruton was, first and foremost, a musician. He breathed music, he bled music. One of the stories I had heard about him was that, as a teenager, he had hitch hiked to Woodstock to hang out with the Band, and ended up as their roadie. And of course, he had been Kris Kristofferson's guitar player since the early 1970's. (You can see him backing up Kristofferson's character in A Star Is Born.) I have a Monument Records sampler that credits him with playing guitar on several Billie Joe Shaver songs from 1970 or 1971. Bruton was making records at an age I was studying for high school midterms.
But, like other musicians who had spent a lot of time on the road, and had lived with the ups and downs of success, and had wrestled demons of one sort or another to a stand-still, Bruton had a wry sense of humor about the whole thing, and I think that colored his outlook on life. He could be passionate about the things he cared about, he could even be hard-assed. But I got the sense he knew it was all one day at a time, and that someone was in charge but it wasn't him.
I moved to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1997. Not only did Stephen loan me his apartment in Santa Monica for a month while I looked for a place to live, but he made sure to introduce me to a bunch of his LA friends, and every time he passed through town he would stop by and say hello. He was a Texas gentleman in the best sense of the word, loyal to his friends and honorable in every way.
Here is a version of Stephen Bruton's "Getting Over You," sung by Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt, from Nelson's album, Across the Borderline.
Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt - Getting Over You