Friday, July 3, 2015

Poem for Marty Gerrity (and James Taylor)

I recently purchased James Taylor's new album (Before This World) and began thinking about my introduction to the music of JT. It came with Marty Gerrity's arrival at the University of Notre Dame in the late winter of 1970. Marty brought two albums with him (and really, not much else!). But wow, what a gift that music was. Marty  became our friend--we were happy to have him around with his brother Mike (Mike was our dear friend and classmate from the Notre Dame Innsbruck Program). I got to know all the Gerrity family: Tommy, Mike, Kevin, Ellen (and her then-boyfriend Tom), Ann, Mrs. Gerrity, Aunt Peggy--flawed and loving and fun--and very very American-Irish. Below is my poem for Marty, who died a couple years ago.

Marty Gerrity Brings James Taylor to Notre Dame

(For Marty, 1952-2013)

When Marty Gerrity hitchhiked into town,
late winter of 1970,
he brought two record albums: James Taylor,
and Sweet Baby James.

“Carolina in My Mind,” the bluesy edge of “Night Owl,”
“Something in the Way She Moves,” “Circle Round the Sun”--all the themes
and genres were there in album #1, then

“Sweet Baby James,” “Steamroller,”
“Country Road,” “Fire and Rain”--

album #2
flattened us, inflamed us, and flooded us
with emotion.

The photo of JT on Sweet Baby James
reminded us of Marty, the long brown hair,
the wistful eyes, full of promise,

and a measure of trouble.

Yes, Marty, we will always remember
your coming to town,
your gift of music,

your trouble
and your grace.

[Bob Coughlin / June 30, 2015]

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