This one might seem to be coming a little late, but it took some time for me decide what, and if, I would write about the late, great Larry Jon Wilson, who died June 21.
He probably would have insisted I resist, but in the end, I found that impossible. You can chastise me, Larry Jon, when we meet again.
Larry Jon Wilson is not a happy man right now.
It's not because he's dead, although he most certainly finds that irritating, too, but because of the fuss and furor over his unexpected passing. Although the singer-songwriter was a public performer, he was a private man, and all the public grieving -- this column included -- would certainly make Wilson uncomfortable.
Sorry about that, Larry Jon. It's the price you pay for being beloved.
The last time we talked, we spent a long time (as was so often the case with him) talking about people, the places they live and the connection some people have for certain places. It's a theme Larry Jon explored in much of his music, including Sapelo , a favorite of mine. It's appropriate that those were among the last words we would share, because much of my memories revolve around his own connections to places and the people that inhabit them -- most notably, Augusta.
You see, although he has divested himself of the mortal coil, Larry Jon is still with the friends, family and fans he left behind. He's perpetually on stage at the Imperial, where he played his last local concert. He's holding court in a coffeehouse, spinning tales for an eager audience. He's there when a late-in-life learner finds the motivation to make music. He's everywhere someone in Augusta encountered his charm, talent and ability to make time stop as a signature Larry Jon tale unfolded.
Like too many before him, Larry Jon Wilson was under-appreciated, particularly in his hometown. He had fan and friends, but not nearly the acclaim he deserved. He didn't seem to mind, although the increase of his professional profile following the release of his Larry Jon Wilson record last year certainly seemed to please him.
He didn't mind because his pleasures were simple. He enjoyed telling stories and singing songs and was so good at it that he never lacked an audience.
Larry Jon once told me that, though he was no longer much of a drinker, he kept a special bottle at the house.
"For medicinal purposes, you understand," he said with a wink. He said the bottle was there to crack open on only the most significant of occasions. Tonight I'll go home, dust off my own special bottle and pour one for my friend Larry Jon Wilson.
Augusta will miss you.