Thursday, October 24, 2013

Seattle's Best Kept Secret: The Yellow Brick Road Leads to Shawn Smith

photo by Jeff Fechser

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high 
There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby 
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue 
And the dreams that you dare to dream 
really do come true 

In the land of dreamy dreams is where you'll find Shawn.  Unconfined by the "grunge formula" of writing, he writes and sings from the heart in his own unique and tranquil style.  Still, there is almost no one else more endeared and held up so high towards the stars, it's truly considered like playing with royalty to be on the same stage and record with him. 

Photo by Shane Forsberg 

I wish I had better memories of Shawn from the old days.  It seems like Andy and I were always fighting around the time that he and Shawn became close.  And if anyone seemed naive to the seriousness of his using it was him, only meaning that others around had actually used with him and seen him already sink to extreme lows and in and out of rehab, so I think Shawn just didn't know what to think, and he's the type of person that only sees the good in a person, and so he chose to see the music and love Andy for that instead of judge him for being a heroin addict. 

I remember one particularly awful fight Andy and I were in outside of a concert.  It's kind of funny when you think about how tall I am and how short Andy was, and visualizing us fighting is exactly how you'd imagine - silly as hell!  That day he was really upset that Mother Love Bone was not on the guest list, I think it was at Guns and Roses, and yet I was.  I had met Steve Perkins that day in the Pike Market, and he put me on their guest list.  Anyhow, Andy was so mad and since he couldn't really hit me, he stomped on my foot, it's funny now but it was embarrassing since I looked up and right behind us watching the whole thing was Shawn.  Our eyes met and he was basically saying "sorry" with his eyes while probably in shock to see that side of Andy.  Like I said, I wish I had better memories, that's just the reality though.  All I can hope for is that even if Shawn does not remember that day, it's somehow subconsciously drilled a message into his mind: don't do drugs and don't date crazy Latinas! 

The innocent among not so innocent, luckily Shawn was smart enough 
to not ever get into drugs.  Unfortunately there are no photos I know of with 
Andy and Shawn.  That is a shame but I can say when they were together they 
were really happy, like to musical peas in a pod. 

There are no other significant memories I have of Shawn from those days.  When Andy died, I remember thinking ,' Oh my God, Shawn...I was more worried about his reaction and how it would affect him than anyone. Obviously his family would hurt. But my first concern and thought was for Shawn. I admit I was angry and gave nothing of value to the family or band since they never listened to me about Andy's using, I was bitter. And I only gave Shawn an old keyboard of his that was cool but worth nothing. I really should have given him the new one Sony had just bought him, but I didn't really think of these things as things of value to others at the moment and I guess I figured one day it will all be in my house if anyone wanted to see any of it or use any of the instruments.  I just wanted it all, it was all I had left.  If I could go back it time I would have given him all Andy's lyric books, guitars, anything he wanted.  If anyone deserves to have all that stuff, its him.  Not that it surprises me now what an amazing musician he has become.  He was there for the best and worst part of Seattle's music history, sharing the laughs with Andy and the tears with the rest of us. And all the while remained strong like a pillar to the weaker ones, never letting his grief become a burden. The influence, love for Andy, and everything he holds inside is apparent in his writing,  and he has clearly refined his style and become a first class musician and performer. 

The Emerald City has many great musicians and performers, but few as versatile and soulful as Shawn.  What the past has shown and taught him has made him one of the most cherished performers.... every wonderful and sad moment all brought together in a collection of timeless music. 

Shawn has also covered some of Andy's music

This cover of Crown of Thorns has been approved by Xalanad 

Today I still don't get to see Shawn as often as I'd like to, and I'm not happy about it!  But I do get to hear lots of his music which he writes and shares freely on social media, he plays out occasionally and the lucky and smart ones are always there basking in his purple glow, I don't try to talk to him about the past, I just try to hold his hand as long as I can and hope that something flows through us both that Andy left behind that he can share with the world.  Words and music, our only tools... communication. 

Someday I'll wish upon a star 
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me 
Where trouble melts like lemon drops 
Away above the chimney tops 
That's where you'll find me 

For more melodies and dreams by Shawn Smith:

For Shawn