By: Susan Turpin – Guest Blogger. You can follow Susan on Twitter, and also check out her blog:
Have you ever wondered why we’re so passionate about the things we love? Why we allow ourselves to become so engrossed in certain hobbies, regardless of whatever it may be? Some people love cooking and all things culinary, while others can become easily wrapped up in movies and call themselves cinephiles. For me, that intense and unending love has always been found in music.
The very first show I ever went to was Peter, Paul, & Mary when I was about 9 years old. My parents raised me on some odd musical selections for someone so young; my childhood featured a lot of The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel, and various classical composers. As a teenager, I was the perfect age for the boy band craze and am relatively unashamed to admit that I saw *NSYNC in concert when I was all of 14 years old. I didn’t go to another show until I was 20 years old.
I was introduced to Phil Pritchett on a very small scale by a fellow I casually dated when I was 21. He would occasionally mention that Phil would be in town that weekend but we never got around to actually seeing him due to differences in schedule and faithfulness. Later that year, when I began dating my ex-husband, he asked me out on a date via picture message to see Phil at Brewster Street Icehouse – a little goofy, but the gesture didn’t go unappreciated. I couldn’t actually make it to see the man himself in concert for another year and a half after that.
It was a cold February evening in 2011. Cold in Corpus Christi is different than cold in other parts of Texas and the rest of the country – there’s something particularly biting about being outside for extended periods of time. Bundled up in hoodies and scarves, we made our way to Executive Surf Club to finally let me see the man my ex spoke so much about. At the time, “our” song was a Phil Pritchett tune about childhood and the wonder of imagination called “Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones”. I loved how the lyrics of the song fully capture what it’s like to be a kid in a time when it was still safe to play outside and come home with bumps and bruises and a great story to tell.
The Full Band, as they’re known, wasn’t playing with him that evening. Phil came onstage, joined only by an acoustic guitar, a Fender amp, and an Irish coffee. The set was almost entirely acoustic, allowing for more story-telling and a different take on some of the songs I’d been continuously listening to in the weeks leading up to the show. He told the story of Robert Earl Keen sitting in a bar and saying that Phil put on one of the best shows he’d seen in years. He jumped up on a table in the crowd and played “Katarina” and “Mexican Restaurant”. He stayed after in the cold and had a genuine conversation with each person that approached him.
I make it a habit to, if possible, talk to the artist after they finish performing and tell them how much I enjoyed their show. That evening was no different – I told Phil I hadn’t gotten a chance to see him until that evening, but I really loved his music and couldn’t wait until the next time I got to see him. He was genuinely appreciative and told us that he looked forward to seeing us at more of his shows. I left that evening feeling hopeful about the state of the music scene for the first time in a few years and was anxious to see what the future would hold.
Ever since then, I haven’t missed a show that Phil has done in Corpus Christi. JW Marshall, the bass player for the Full Band, has regaled me with the story of how he got his nickname when he’d first started playing with Phil. I’ve seen drummers come and go and heard them play both old standbys and new favorites. I’ve even been there to meet JW’s father and hear his own stories of being a musician and how proud he is of his sons for being as talented as they are.
In August 2011, Phil Pritchett and the Full Band began recording what would eventually become Corpus Christi Live, his first live album released since Cool and Unusual Punishment in 2004. A week prior to the show, I had gone through the rewarding pain of having the lyrics “History is never made in a straight line” permanently inked onto my body because of the striking similarity to events that were happening at that time in my life. The phrase embodied my philosophy on life and all of the seemingly terrible things that happen to us that only end up shaping who we are as people. I still love Phil’s reaction of flattered disbelief upon showing him the tattoo, as if he couldn’t believe that someone found so much meaning in the lyrics that he wrote to make it a permanent part of their life.
This is what’s great about Phil Pritchett’s songwriting – many of them are the kinds of tunes that you can drunkenly “sing” along with, like his renditions of “Psycho Killer” by The Talking Heads or “Dirty South” by Gary Floater. So many of his songs, though, manage to hit us right where it counts when we need it most. Songs like “Texas Ain’t As Big As It Used To Be” and “Bruising Sheetrock” both remind us that even in our hardest times, at least one other person has felt the same pain we’re going through. The songs like “No One Loves You Like Your Mother Does” and “Time Equals Distance” remind us to keep those we love close to us, because you never know when you’ll drift away or lose them entirely.
As time has gone by, I’ve gone to more shows than I can count. I’ve gotten to see artists I’ve loved for years whose music has impacted me in more ways than I’ll ever know and artists who I’ve just discovered who are quickly becoming personally esteemed. One thing that will never change is the love I have for the art of live music and how it takes some extremely talented people to make the live shows come together and work regardless of the venue. I’ve seen shows everywhere from tiny house parties to humongous stadiums and will always feel like the same 9 year old, filled with wonder, excitement, and love.