I’ve always been a bit of a sap. Oh, not for all things, but a few things; good music is one.
No one in my pack listened to Paul Davis music in the late 70s. I like all kinds of music. That doctrine was a shield I could wield to fight off the pummelling of sharp ridicule that came from the back seat of the 1970 Gran Fury— by one of several friends— when I turned up Paul Davis instead of the Stones. It would be some time before I would have the means to install a tape deck into my car, so I was held at the mercy of the playlists forced upon the deejays on our local radio stations.
To lay it all out on the line, I would have immensely enjoyed a little of George Beverly Shea’s “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”— now and then— if it had been available on radio stations during those years. It wasn’t, but the homebound console, a Zenith record changer, had plenty of GBS available. The album stash also contained every one of the Tijuana Brass albums; I love Herb Alpert.
Begging for silence from a band of post-pubescent man-boys who were along for the ride was a futile crusade. It took a long time to learn all the lyrics of the songs that formed my eclectic taste in music.
Loud cajoling, artificially produced fart sounds, and wet willies stuck in both my left and right ear pan could have made lesser men punch the preset radio button that would lead us to Bangor’s 12Rock, also known as WGUY.
Still, I was a firm believer in melody, harmony, and the superior acoustics provided by a well-worn brown paisley cloth interior. I owned the metallic brown beauty, and it was always clear that the driver controlled the radio. “I Go Crazy” would continue to be played—loudly— whenever it came on.
His song, “Do Right,” was one of my favorites in 1980. I was heading into my senior year in high school. No one knew that I liked that one either. That summer, I was stuck in a small town in steaming Georgia near the border of South Carolina. A Maine boy in Georgia just doesn’t work out all that well.
I contracted Mononucleosis—not from kissing, which is unfortunate—and spent that summer— very tired— listening to music in my tiny bedroom in the town where I had no friends. My dad had taken a pastorship there. Paul Davis was a pastor’s kid from Mississippi. We had more in common than I knew.
Fortuitous for me, my parents saw that I was way out of my element. They sent me back to Maine that autumn to finish my senior year. I moved in with my buddy Robie T. and his family. I made it through twelfth grade without much fanfare or superior gradesmanship. I know it’s not a word, but I am not one to be held captive by the wants and needs of others.
Paul Davis released “Cool Night” in 1981. I liked that one; it was excellent date night music. While I was kissed more that year, I never was stricken with Mono again. It was good to be back in Maine.
Davis had stepped away from making music after being shot in the stomach during a robbery attempt in Nashville back in 1986. I was working as a radio deeJay by that time. I worked directly with the deejays I listened to on WGUY while I had been driving around in high school. We didn’t play any Paul Davis during those years.
Davis survived his gunshot wound, but he stepped away from performing. He made a little more music with some country stars, and he had started working on some new projects in a home studio. Most of that is not available for fans to hear.
Paul Davis died on this date, April 22, 2008. It wasn’t a widely-shared news story when he passed from a heart attack. I heard, probably a couple of days later, and it made me long for the time when he was making the music that most of my friends didn’t like at all.
Paul Davis might have made me a musical pariah with my friends, but he also got me through a long, hot, lonely summer in northwest Georgia and some ‘cool nights’ on the jagged edge. Preacher’s kids have got to stick together.
Paul Davis April 21, 1948—April 22, 2008
“His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
From the Jagged Edge, I remain,