Posts Tagged With: Dean Dauphinais

George Lawrence, fare thee well

GeorgeL.jpgWriting is a mostly solitary pursuit that involves a lot of what Stephen King (among others) calls “ass in chair time.” But there are times when other people do enter into it and leave their mark, especially when they turn up at a particularly opportune moment. That goes for George Lawrence, a former News & Observer co-worker of mine who passed away in his sleep Monday morning at age 58.

Not quite six years ago, I was slogging through the obligatory horrible first draft of “Losering” and doing what one does: trying to convince myself it would be worth the agony while dealing with the usual cocktail of insomnia, insecurity, self-loathing and various other emotional goodies induced by book-writing. In the midst of all that, I bumped into George at a Neil Young show in Durham that I was reviewing for the paper.

I hadn’t seen George in a while and we got to talking about Ryan Adams, who he’d known well enough to be one of his local party buddies back in the day. And as soon as he found out I was writing a book about Ryan, George perked right up and provided just the dose of enthusiasm I needed to get over the hump. George wound up being one of my best sounding boards as I worked to wrestle “Losering” to the ground, which earned him a place of honor in the “Acknowledgements” section on page 202:

A special few went truly above and beyond the call of duty: Dean Dauphinais, Tracy Davis, and George Lawrence for being extra eyes, and voices of enthusiasm when I was at my lowest ebb.

rsglLong before all this, George was an N&O fixture by the time I got there in 1991, holding multiple editing and managerial jobs in the newsroom. What I remember most about George back then was him being the life of the party at out-of-office gatherings or pickup softball and basketball games, always quick with a quip and a backslap.

Eventually he left journalism to go into PR and consulting, but it was a choice he seemed to regret. I’d hear from him intermittently, and he’d talk wistfully about how much he missed writing and wanted to get back to it. He’d send me the occasional piece of rock memorabilia, too, like this vintage framed Rolling Stones album cover (which I’ve got hanging on the wall right next to my record collection at home).

George did have his struggles in recent years, and he was in and out of the hospital repeatedly with a lot of health problems. But he’d still pop up now and then on Facebook, to lob a song lyric my way or ask a question about some band or other. Several times over the past year, I had the thought that I really ought to check in on him; right now I’m feeling a little guilty for not making more of an effort to follow up.

Of course, if George were here, I expect he’d brush that off with a self-deprecating joke — or maybe he’d drop another lyric. His last words to the world on his Facebook page came a few weeks back, a quote from the late great Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt’s epic of betrayal “Pancho and Lefty”:


Somewhere in the great beyond, I picture George seeking out Townes to have a word about that.

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Happy Veterans Day

Between Halloween, last Tuesday’s big election and Thanksgiving coming up, everybody is kind of catching their breath this weekend. But don’t forget Veterans Day today. And I bet Ryan remembers, seeing as how he grew up in the military-base town of Jacksonville, N.C. Maybe that’s why he wrote one of the best songs of remembrance I know, which is on (of course) Strangers Almanac. Take a listen, and remember.

There’s also this version, courtesy of my man Dean.

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More from the super-fans: Jennifer John Bickel

Publishing “Losering” has brought me into contact with some pretty hardcore super-fans from Ryan’s world, which hasn’t been as fraught as I’d feared it might be (at least not yet). So far, it’s been a pleasure, even when we disagree. One super-fan I’ve had no disagreements with is Jennifer John Bickel, who I met on last weekend’s Texas sojourn via Dean Dauphinais — she was one of the friends he bought along to both readings I did down there. At the San Antonio reading, Jennifer cited Ryan’s Love Is Hell as her favorite album of all time. And over dinner, as we discussed our mutual affection for the hilarious website, it emerged that she’s enough of a fan to have made a cake for Ryan and the Cardinals back in 2009. Check out her handiwork below, which looks both delicious and too pretty to eat…

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San Antonio stroll, with The Dean

Even when turnout is small, it doesn’t matter if the joint isn’t crowded so long as the right people are in the house. That was definitely the case for the reading I did Monday evening at The Twig, a super-cool bookstore in the old Pearl Brewery not far from downtown San Antonio. I grew up in the Alamo City, so there were some relatives and old family friends in the house — plus my buddy Dean Dauphinais, also known as the best fan an author can have.

Dean is someone I’ve known for 15 years, going back to when I did some entries for the MusicHound record-guide series. He’s a huge Ryan fan, and we’ve often sent tracks and tidbits back and forth over the years. When I let him read a few in-progress chapters of “Losering,” he instantly got on-board as an early and enthusiastic supporter. He’s one of a handful of folks who were enormously helpful during the process (and he’s continued talking the book up now that it’s out, bless his heart). Dean lives in Detroit, but he just happened to be in Texas during my “book tour.” So he came to the Austin reading as well as the one in San Antonio, and he even brought along friends to both.

Now that is a friend and fan to cherish! Thanks, Dean.

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