Waylon Payne Goes Into Tremendous Detail For Track-by-Track of ‘Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me’

Sixteen years in the making, the Frank Liddell and Eric Masse-produced album presents Waylon Payne’s story in four acts, each representing a different period in his life. 

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Payne confronts the weight of the demons he inherited at birth in Act I, and takes ownership of his own mistakes in Act II. And after a nearly decade-long, turbulent battle with drug addiction, homelessness, family loss and a lifetime’s worth of unimaginable pain, he finds redemption and healing in Act III. 

Last Friday (9.11), Payne released the final Act of Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me along with the album in full.  The hopeful lullaby “Santa Ana Winds” feels like a homecoming, while “Precious Thing” is like a prayer, reminding us that each moment we have on this earth is a gift, and the tragically romantic “Old Blue Eyes” wraps with a moment of nostalgia.

Fans can listen to the album everywhere you can find music right now.

Act I: 
1. Sins of the Father (Waylon Payne)
    In 2008, I left Nashville for a series of dates in Austin with my friend Cory Morrow.  I was under a crippling spell of a drug called meth, and I wasn’t going to get better anytime soon.  I was hopeless and lost over the death of my mother; I also saw the end of a relationship that I had allowed to take me away from her during her passing over.  I had reached out to Cory because he was always a safe place for me to be.  Since the moment we met we loved each other and totally had each others backs.  I went there never intending to not return to Nashville, but it happened just so.

    On the first night of that engagement, July 24, 2008, I met Edward Johnson.  Edward is about 6 1/2 foot of awesome.  I had a crush on him instantly- I probably fell in love with him that day as well. I’m nothing if not complicated, but this man found a wounded soul and decided to take compassion on me.  I was the wounded mutt and he was the tough as nails junk yard dog who took me under his wing.  There was a mutual respect from the instant we met, and I hadn’t had much of that from the surroundings I had.

    I had gone so far down the tubes in Nashville that I had junkies and dealers living in my house.  I was kind of a movie star and everybody saw money.  I didn’t hide it.  Life had been good to me.  I was heartbroken and lost and wanted to do nothing but get high.  I had paid a couple of musicians about 20,000 dollars each to help me make a record and be my road band.  They were all as strung out as me, and we partied thru every bit of money I had.  And what do you know? When that money ran out, so did they.  I had also crossed a line and had started using needles pretty heavy.  That was a demon that hung around for a while.  With my exit from Nashville, I had the clothes on my back, a few guitars and was gone.  I never went back to that house.

    By meeting Edward, and without my knowledge, the universe started weaving a spell of healing in my soul.  I am habitually a series of starts and stops.  I immediately did something different.  I turned my entire life over to Edward to handle.  Edward knew I loved him, but was quick to define our relationship.  In all honesty, I thought I had found my savior.  Our relationship was not a romantic one at any time, but more of a guiding father figure that I so desperately needed.

Since a very young age I had struggled with the lack of a father.  I never had one.  I was raised by my mother’s brother and his wife.  He was a father figure but I was terrified of him. He tried, but eventually he became a man who hurt me in ways that still haunt me to this day. It ruined my life and set into motion a course of action that would for a time define my life.  It was the seed to my addiction and the root of it all.  Later, meeting my own father, we quickly found that my budding addiction was a bonding moment between father and son.  We started doing harder stuff- mountains of coke and eventually speed, all washed down with plenty of whiskey.  My father couldn’t deal with the abuse i had gone through, so it was never discussed.  We just got high.  As time went on this demon took over me.  All I wanted was to escape.  I used everything, even sex.

    July 24, 2008 was my new date with destiny.  From that day on I knew I had to change my life.  With Edward’s help, I started that journey.  It wasn’t easy.  I knew if I stopped using, I would have to face the things that terrified me the most.  I fought it.  I still used.  I had a condo on Willie’s golf course where I holed up and slowly got deeper into the needle.  All the while I was still trying to convince myself I was fine.  I went deeper.  The real change came like a grace of God moment.

    I had gotten evicted from my condo due to not having any money  I was in terrible arrears.  I was able to move into a house with my friend Sue Ann Zerre.  Here, we all lived together.  I couldn’t do drugs anymore because there were always eyes on me. The little that i did, I hid.  Also, Edward’s work had broken through the shell of armor I had carefully placed around me.  He made me stand up.  He expected a lot of me. No one ever had.  Plus, he and his wife Angie were having a baby.  I have known Edward Lake Johnson II since his inception.  I played Willie’s 4th of July picnic and Edward and Angie and Cory and Sherri Morrow were all in attendance.  We took pictures on the stage that day.  They all got pregnant that night.  Lake and his best friend Bear Allan Morrow were born a few days apart, one week before my birthday.  Lake and I used to talk to each other while he was in his mother’s womb.  He would stroke my hand as I talked to him towards the 9th month, and I think it is safe to say that boy and his daddy saved my life.

Suddenly it all made sense.  I was given an opportunity to see a father’s love.  i was able to understand it and witness it first hand.I had a responsibility to my new friend who has loved me unconditionally since his time on earth began.  He deserved to see a man of his daddy’s character when he looked at me.  I stopped doing meth on April 5, 2012.  I found the strength to tackle the issues of sexual abuse that I never had.  I put down my addiction because I felt worthy of being loved, because for the first time, I was loved and I loved me.

2. Dead on a Wheel (Waylon Payne)
I was living in LA during the spring of 2012.  I had been in Austin since 2008 working on getting sober.  I had done a film in 2010 with Monte Hellman, and was again trying to breathe life into my fledgling career.  It wasn’t working too well for me, as I was still a bit of a slave to occasional episodes of getting high.  I was doing my best, though.  I didn’t have a car and for the life of me I don’t know how I got to LA.  I had moved in with a buddy and was sleeping on his couch and working a construction job so I could eat.  I was still trying to find my grown up feet, much like another troubled actress that I had loved for many years.

     Lindsay Lohan was always in the news.  I knew what she was going through.  If I had ever thought Nashville was fucked, Hollywood was even more so. Everywhere you turn there is a temptation. If you do not have your wits about you, you are screwed.  It’s like a pheromone you unknowingly start to give off- fear, anxiety, doubt, desperation.  They all have their own scent, and vampires and demons are keen to its exuding.  It’s like catching that whiff of weed coming from a back alley.  It immediately makes you alter your course in search of that smell. The vampires had their teeth in me more than once, and now they had their jaws firmly around her jugular.  Every morning the news would be of her at a court hearing, her stealing something, her and her girlfriend caught on camera, or her caught out totally fucked up.  Everyone was out for the slightest drop of blood, and she was bleeding like a sieve.  It absolutely broke my heart.  Michael, her father was strung out on coke and going out of his mind.  The whole family was in turmoil and no one seemed to give two shits about the meltdown we were all witnessing to our very own Disney princess.

     As I would walk to work everyday from my apartment on Fountain and Gower, I had to pass by an ominous skyscraper of probably 40-50 stories.  In Hollywood, everything is a billboard, and this included skyscrapers.  On one morning I noticed a new one going up on the side of the building.  It started from the top, so from the first day I could see that it was an ad for the new version of the game LA Noir.  It was some sort of shoot ’em up gangster thug type of game where the object I assume is survival by any means.  Over the course of the next week, the full image began to emerge.  It was a young redhead dead on a steering wheel.  Bloody.  Broken.  30 feet high.  It was Lindsay Lohan.  I passed by that billboard for the next month, and everyday it just made me sadder.  Here was a Hollywood starlet- and a prominent one- dead on a wheel for all the world to see.  Right there in the brightness of the day, some motherfucker decides it would be cool to go ahead and put a final nail in her coffin.  I could hear the meetings in the boardroom…

     “We can’t use her picture.”

     “Oh sure we can! It will be great for our marketing campaign if she actually does die, right? Hello profit margin.  We will all get bonuses!”

     “Wasted energy, that one.  Yes! Green-light the image!”

     I wondered how many people walked by this thing everyday and never noticed what I did.  Maybe it was subliminal and i was just too sensitive.  If I could just get a message to her could I help? There was a reason she was so on my mind- the universe just works that way.  I started hearing the song before it was ever born, but that is the way they are always born for me.  Maybe my  song would somehow be the message that would reach her ears.  Why was she and her family so heavy on my heart? Perhaps it was because I had just gone thru the wolves and hallows she was now trying to maneuver. I couldn’t wrap my mind around why I was hurting so bad for a stranger. 

     The next day after I started the chorus for this song, I was walking down that same street.  There was no one around; erie for Hollywood.  There was no one but a disheveled man walking in my direction.  I felt him and almost immediately started getting the chills.  We were closing in on each other and I was unsure of what to do.  Need was all over his body and I could feel his heartbreak from twenty paces.  We locked eyes and he smiled a smile I had been faking for years.  Then I smiled back.  We passed each other like we pass a thousand other people in a day, but I was stopped dead in my tracks with the thought that we were supposed to be on that street on that day and at that moment.  My heels turned around to stop him.  I found myself looking into his eyes again, and the words that came from my mouth were from another space in time.

     “Hey.” I stammered.

     “Hey.” he replied.

     “I just wanted you to know that I see you and I needed to let you know that things will get better.  I believe it with all of my heart.” I said as I reached out my hand.  “I’m Waylon.”

     His eyes looked into mine and I knew why I had come to Hollywood again.  

     “Thank you,” he said.  “I’m Michael Lohan.”

3. What A High Horse (Waylon Payne)
I had flown out to LA in August of 2013 to film an interview for a documentary that I started in 2002.  I was playing a show with Willie at the Hollywood Bowl, and we were taping an interview with him for the film.  He had played a huge role in my getting off meth, and the documentary had shifted to more of a public service announcement  of sorts.  I was staying with my friend Margo and had woken to my cell phone beeping.  This was a bit unusual because our house is in Laurel Canyon, and cell reception was shoddy at best.  I picked up the phone and saw a message from a friend in Austin.

     “Sorry about your dad.”

     At first it didn’t even register.  Daddy had been sick for a few years, and everyone knew he was in ill health.  I quickly sent a “thank you” and put my boots on to drive down the hill to the King’s Road Cafe- my morning ritual every morning when I’m in LA.  I borrowed Margo’s car and began the drive down Kirkwood to the bottom of Laurel Canyon.  Just before the stop light, my phone started beeping again.  This time it was with fury, as I must’ve missed several calls.  I looked at the screen.

     “RIP Jody Payne…”

      I immediately called Edward.  I don’t know why, but he’s always the first person I call.  I then dialed my daddy’s number.  No answer.  I did that the morning momma died.  I knew she wouldn’t answer, but I called anyway.  I did the same this morning.

      I called Vicki.  No answer.  I looked at Facebook.  There it was.  Daddy was dead.  It was so odd that I would be playing with Will just a few hours later.  It didn’t seem real, but it was.  I never shed a single tear.  It just didn’t seem like something daddy and I would do.  I wasn’t doing meth anymore; that’s what we would’ve done.  My stomach couldn’t handle whisky anymore; we would’ve done that too.  I just went and got my coffee at the King’s Road and went back to the house.

     Thus would begin the next phase of life with my dad- or rather without him.  His was a hard death.  We all watched as he wasted away and died.  The bottle and speed took my dad.  Along with those damned cigarettes that I cannot keep out of my mouth.  I went home to be with Vicki and Austin.  They forgot to cremate daddy, so he laid in the morgue for days.  We finally took possession and I proceeded to load him into 20 individual gram cocaine vials.  We passed them out to his friends so that everyone could have a gram of Jody.  Vicki and I fought like cats and dogs for weeks at a time as we struggled with the feelings that had been left behind.  Eventually we had to deal with the aftermath and hash out our feelings.  Death is never easy, and we had let ourselves fall into a kind of alternate reality.  Reality, though, will be seen.  I treasure those times we had as a family, and even treasure the devastation we were able to wade through.  

     I love you daddy.

Act II:
4. All the Trouble (Waylon Payne, Adam Wright, Lee Ann Womack)
       I had just made the jump in November and moved back to Nashville in 2015.  The house I had rented was cool, but I had no sooner signed the lease before my friend Lee Ann asked me to join her on a writing weekend up to the Hamptons.  I had not been there in many years, but Adam Wright and I flew to somewhere and met the bus and woke up on Long Island.  There was a chill in the air and there was a good feeling going.  

            Lee Ann Womack has been my friend for many years.  I hold her and her family, Frank, Aubrey and Anna as my family and it has always been that way. She had set us up in a huge mansion with stellar views and fireplaces in each room. An added bonus came from a foul-mouthed top chef named Sylvia, who continually supplied (or plied) us with delicious five course meals – every meal.  The evenings were often wrapped with a hot toddy, full of bourbon and butter.  We were there for almost a week, and the songs started flowing.  Adam, Lee Ann and I wrote a song called “All the Trouble” and another song called “Pictures” that week.  We also wrote some other songs with the band and Ethan Ballinger.  The week felt like a success, and we all returned to Nashville just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  

            Later, Frank asked if I would like to go with them to Houston to record Lee Ann’s new album.  He also asked if I would play guitar on the session.  I am a lot of things, but no one has ever really referred to me as a guitar player.  Petey and I loaded up in a rental car and took off to Houston.  The session was electric, and it was amazing to be there with my extended family to make music.  Later, when the album came out, I had four songs on it. A few months later, I was sitting in the audience and nominated with Lee Ann and Adam for a Grammy.  We didn’t win, and I didn’t mind that we lost to Brandi Carlile.  

            As we were cutting this album, I had not planned on including “All The Trouble” until Frank and Eric Masse suggested I give it a shot. I am proud to say it is one of my favorite tracks on the album.  Thank you Lee Ann for including me on this fun journey!

5. Dangerous Criminal (Waylon Payne)
            I guess the best place to start when addressing one’s demons is to look into the mirror.  For a while, I couldn’t look at myself anymore.  When I was a young man of about 19-20, I had a real “come to Jesus” moment, as the religious would say.  It was funny, because I had given up on Him a while back.  One night in a bar, I had to go to the restroom.  I had no one and really no idea how to proceed in my life. I caught a glimpse of my drunk ass at the sink as I was washing my hands.  Poor kid.  I wish I could have told him it would be ok, but he had to learn it for himself.  But that night, I saw myself for the first time.  I had gone through some wild shit in my young years, and here I stood at my reckoning.  I told the kid in the mirror that I loved him, and that no matter what, I would never give up on him.

            I don’t know how I went from that confident kid to the man I became.  I still had a lot of learning to do.  I managed to wrangle myself a job, which led to another job working at Opryland in Texas, which led to the move to Nashville, which led me to Hollywood and literally around the world.  All the while, I was on a mission.  Funny how the things I wanted back then I have achieved and then some; my life has been fortunate and I cannot complain.  I left many in my wake as a young man – some deserved and some perhaps not so.  I struggle daily with demons and memories that play out on a silver screen twenty-four hours a day and I oft pray to be rid of them.  Alas, they persist.  I can only say that when the persistent torture of me/by me came to an end, it left nothing but time for analyzation.  Who was I apart from this lonely dude that runs the highways always looking? Why did I shut myself off to anyone emotionally except for a few trusted pros that I keep in my address book? When the goal was attained, why did I tear it down rather than relish in the years of work it took to get there? 

Plain and simple, I had issues.  I took some time to talk to some folks at an organization called HAAM in Austin, Texas shortly after I got off meth.  The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians provides affordable health and human services to Austin musicians.  It was suggested to me that I take some time and take advantage of another kind of pro: a shrink.  They helped pair me with someone who made me feel at ease and with his help, I was able to address some issues that had.  Not many folks know, but I had a psychotic break due to my meth use and an assault in 2008.  I was so near the end in California that people started writing me off because I was unable to be counted on or even coherent at times. It got worse in Nashville because of my needle use. Once I was able to get the poison out of my system, the real work started.  I had let myself go to the dark side and needed to find a way home.  My buddy Edward and my Nelson family really helped save my life – now I had to step in and take over.  

            The therapy went on for the spring and the summer.  Once I understood in medical terms what had happened to me, I was able to assign my feelings what they were owed – a break.  My biggest addiction was to a drug called meth, but so many other things had a part in my spiral.  If you are dealing with a problem and you need some help, please find appropriate places to get help.  They are out there and there is nothing wrong with taking the time to keep yourself in check.  It is good being able to sing about my experiences as the most dangerous person I know.

6. Shiver (Waylon Payne)
For me, “Shiver” is both a story and song that I hold extremely close to the vest. It is not something I address publicly; but perhaps if you are inclined to listen, the story can be heard. 

Act III:
7. Born to Lose (Waylon Payne, Tom Yankton)
I have a good friend named Thomas.  Thomas and I met some years ago, around 2006.  We bonded over music and I felt as if I had made a new friend.  It is no secret that I have battled drugs and all sorts of other proclivities in my journey to manhood.  When Pinocchio went to Pleasure Island, he went with his boys.  When one wants to party, boys have their boys.  

When I moved back to Nashville, I found myself with a fun group of outsiders and misfits. We all were looking for something, and for a while we all turned to meth.  I saw so many friends wither away and disappear into the mouth of that devil.  We were crazy and not thinking clearly.  We made midnight rides in the blinding snow to go and get the next fix.  We got ripped off by other friends who were hustling us.  Everyone was after the dope.  One week, someone would have a big score and be the king of the mountain, and the whole neighborhood if you will, catered to the latest boss.  None of us slept.  We all turned into zombies of a sort, never realizing what hell we were actually going through.

Sessions went on for days.  We all loved each other, but fell out of love if the dope was gone.  I still believe in all of those guys.  

A lot of them are clean.  A lot of them are still in use. Quite a few of them are alive.  Quite a few more are not.  Thomas, thank God, was arrested one night and did a stint in jail.  I am a firm believer that it saved his life, and perhaps the lives of a few others.  Thomas got himself cleaned up, one step at a time.  He got himself a good wife, and together, they had a baby girl.  I see Thomas from time to time, though not as oft as I would like to.  Shortly after I got back to Nashville, he and I finished a song I had started a few years earlier.  The title of this album is Blue Eyes, the Harlot, the Queer, the Pusher & Me.  Thomas was an intricate part of the weaving of the fabric of my last 15 years, and I feel extremely grateful that out of all of our band of lost boys, Thomas was able to be included in the telling of this story.  Congratulations, Thomas.  We made it through…

8. Back From the Grave (Waylon Payne, Brandy Clark, Clint Lagerberg)I have always been a fan of songwriters, and when I returned to Tennessee, I was able to hook up with some of the best. Clint Laderburg is a solid hitmaker in Nashville, and we had hit it off a few weeks earlier, so he called for another.  When I walked into the room, there was the awesome Brandy Clark.  I had been a fan of hers for quite some time as well, and we quickly set out to the task at hand.  What resulted is this little gem of salvation and redemption.  I hope it brings a smile to your face and a happy feeling in your heart.

9. After the Storm (Waylon Payne)
November 15, 2015 — I moved into my first house in ten years today.  I just got back from the Hamptons where I was hanging out with Lee Ann and her band, as well as a guy named Adam Wright.  We spent a week up there eating great food and writing songs for Lee Ann’s new album.  Today, I moved into a duplex I rented from a buddy named Kurt Denny.  I cried because before I left last week, I  came over and the whole place smelled like wet dog.  wet dog ass, to be exact.  The carpets had just been “cleaned” but they were still dark brown and should’ve been tan.  Before I left though, I came by and dumped three boxes of carpet fresh on the whole duplex.  I was pleasantly surprised when I came home and it smelled great.  I had moved my few belongings in before I left for New York, so here I was sitting on the floor in my new pad watching antenna television.  I am not doing too good being away from Edward.  He didn’t understand why I decided to move back here, and I’ve tried and tried to explain that I had to do it for me.  I have had to abandon every secure thing that I have and move back to the lion’s den.  I don’t know how I am going to handle the coming months, I have no desire to get fucked up or anything of the sort, still being here is quite strange.  I am amazed that I made it.  I have nothing in this place- tomorrow I’m going to buy a sofa.  I’ve never bought a new sofa before.  I need some supplies for this place- and perhaps a heater as this place has no heat.  I think I will get one that looks like a wood burning stove.  I also will figure out what to do about Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s gonna be here before I know it.  I feel optimistic about the future.  The important thing is that I made it thru the storm unscathed…. well, almost.  

Act IV:
10. Santa Anna (Waylon Payne, Dean Person)
It was fast approaching Lake’s first birthday.  I had gone to LA to try to stir up work, but most everything I did seemed like a dead end.  Perhaps I was moving too fast.  I was still trying very hard to stay sober, but couldn’t help running away some weekends.  Monte’s (Hellman) son was battling the meth as well, and there were a few nights in Laurel Canyon where I’d let myself run wild.  It was more of a cathartic sort of experience though, and I knew my days of using were coming to an end.  Still, put a glass of water in front of a thirsty man and he’s gonna drink it even if he knows it is poison.  The best part about that time in LA was the music.  I had proven to myself that I could still rock and roll, and had made a new friend who is still around to this day, Dean Person.  Dean and I  met through Monte, and in order to keep from being fucked up all the time, I started playing music.  My drummer and best friend from high school, Blake Oswald, was as always, right behind me.  We had a kick-ass bass player named Jerry Roe, and we played in the final year of the Piano Bar’s life.  We did a lot of my momma’s songs, learned straight from reel to reel tapes of her live at the Exit In in 1974.  It was making me come back to life; she had been gone a while so the sting had eased up a little.  I had let Edward and Lake, Sue Ann, Amy and Paula and Connie Nelson, Willie and Annie Nelson and a few others help bring me back to life.  Now were the proving times.  Could I keep up the facade of not being who I said I was? What was I looking for?  Hadn’t I found it in Texas? Indeed, I had.  

     I had no money and needed to get back to my family.  It was healing, and I no longer had to go looking for things to make me happy.  I was happy, I just had to embrace it.  All i knew was I needed to get back to Austin and to Lake and Bear’s first birthday.  Dean and I would hang out everyday and play music.  It helped take my mind off meth.  Santa Ana came one of the first days we ever hung out.  We found a melody (all Dean) and I started singing a lullaby to my buddy Lake.  It just fell out of my mouth.  Later, when we recorded the song, Willie added his own special touch to it.  It always makes me cry when I hear it.  I’m certain we have accomplished a beautiful piece of work on this song.  

     Oh- and at the last minute an old gangster friend of mine named Art Miller showed up on my doorstep.  Art is the kind of guy that when he shows up you know you should shut the door, but you never do.  Always a scam, always a smile, always a whiplash.  Well, Art showed up and said he was onto his “big hit”.  “I am in the business of making people happy, son.  So what is your dream right at this very moment?”

     “How about a ticket home? One way?”

     I fed Lake and Bear cake on their birthday, and never did meth again.

11. Precious Thing (Waylon Payne, Clint Lagerberg) Clint Laderburg and I wrote this song one morning as our stomachs were growling.  I knew this song was going to be special when we started it, but I had no idea how much it would move me when it was done.  It truly is a gift from somewhere way back in my childhood – the rekindling of faith.  I am not sure how everyone feels about faith, but my life has been led by it.  I lost my way for a while, but found my way back.  When the boys and I are fortunate enough to play the Opry, we do this song and the response in the following days is always a sign that we made the right choice.  As Dolly says, “I hope you get a blessing out of it…”

12. Old Blue Eyes (Waylon Payne)
I think perhaps the last story is one of the hardest to tell.  I met my friend Tyler around 2006.  We hit it off immediately and bonded over our full-blown addictions.  Tyler was another one of those powerful men that came into my life and made an impact.  I got a kick out his conspiracy theories, and his general badass demeanor that always sucked me in.  It was like I was trying to be a bad boy when I knew I wasn’t, but it was a ball while I was pretending.  I make it sound glamorous, but Tyler was my dealer. Early on in my addiction, I became involved with the needle.  For a time it was all I would do – clean high, awesome trip and hardly a come down.  Who the hell am I kidding? Do I even remember coming down? 

He had a house off of Old Hickory out in Madison. It was like the den of iniquity.  The boys club – drugs, guns, hookers, junkies – family of sorts.  We all were running from something and on a quest that to this day I still don’t know the meaning of.  But for a while, we all leaned on each other and got through life together.  I lived over in East Nashville, and not the good part, and the party began.  My home was a nonstop stop off for anybody holding, and everyone trusted had an open door.  All my buddies probably thought I was into them – maybe I was into a few – and that’s usually the way life works out.  My best friends in life have always been good, strong and usually handsome men.  They all represent parts of my life, and have always remained constant and solid friends, though none of them have ever turned romantic.  Tyler was one of those guys.

He was a scientist for Pfizer, and developed (supposedly) some of the cancer fighting drugs that are on the market today. Funny thing was he had rectal cancer and was dying and there was nothing that could be done.  He said he cashed it all in and moved away and ended up slinging meth and doing what he could until he died.  

Now, keep in mind, it all sounds tragically romantic in a way, but there is no way for me to verify if any of it was true.  Tyler was on meth, as was I.  I knew only about Tyler what Tyler wanted me to know – it may have all been true or it may have all just been true in his mind.  It all could have been true in my mind as well, and a lot of it was.  Meth is a crazy trip.

That being said, Tyler and I bonded over a love of music and poetry.  I was making a record with some guys I had met in Nashville, and would come over with the rough tracks from the studio for him to hear.  Portales was a favorite.  I had also cut a bunch of Kristofferson songs, as well as a lot of Sammi Smith.  He would listen with intent and really wished the record would be finished before he died – it never would see the light of day.  Tyler became my most trusted friend.  Most of my friends saw cash when they looked at me.  Tyler tried to ration my drug use.  He would try to make sure I didn’t go too far out, because he was the one shooting me up.  I jokingly referred to him as my “pusher” – literally.  I was able to hit a vein in my arm once and only once, and I am convinced that my mother put her hand around my arm to prevent me from ever doing it again. Tyler filled that position.  We spent days hanging and playing guitar, fishing on a ’67 Gibson, and getting higher than the Georgia pines.  There was safety from my demons with my friend, and I provided him songs to soothe his heart.  He seemed to trust me too, and I treasure those memories even if we were out of our minds.

Tyler liked to do heroin a lot.  He would zone out and I would blast off.  One day I got to his house and he asked me to take him to eat.  He blasted off before we left and I didn’t know it.  Twenty minutes later he was overdosing in my car. I don’t know how we made it through that night.  

Another time, he picked me up from a two week stay in Vanderbilt Hospital as I was on the verge of dying from MRCA for the second time.  He took care of me when the hospital had said they could do no more for me. We went home and got high.  Somehow I got better.  

We fell out over a dope deal and new dope friends.  I thought he had betrayed me and was broken.  In the end, we came around.  
One afternoon as we were at Mexico, (our little drug den) he sang me the song he sang at least once whenever we were together, “The Silver Tongued Devil” by Kris Kristofferson.  As we pondered the song, he challenged me to come up with a title as glorious as that one.  I gave it some thought, and based on our surroundings and overall lifestyle blurted out “Ol’ Blue Eyes, the Harlot, the  Queer and the Pusher – and me”.  He stopped and looked at me and said “Promise me you will name an album that.”

The last time I saw him was just before I left for Texas in July of 2008.  He had started bleeding again as a result of the cancer, and was looking at the inevitable. We made our peace and parted with I love you.  A few weeks later he was dead.  I knew exactly how it happened.  He had told me that when the time came he had a stash of great heroin and great glass and loaded up a huge needle.  “When it’s my time, I’m gonna shoot for the moon.”
It sure is funny how things turn out, Tyler. You finally reached the moon; and I kept my promise to my friend.  I know wherever you are today that you are in a better place, and I hope you know the night you died I cried real and true tears for you.

The true solace lies in the fact that I made it out – alive and well, save a few scars that will stick around forever.  I hope the stories on this album get to where they need to go.  I hope if you hear my story it helps your heart.  Mine was torn up for a while, not anymore.

Side note: I almost did not keep my promise to Tyler. I always wanted that to be the title, but for a time I resisted, as it seemed wrong.  Later, Frank and Masse had the same idea, and in my heart I knew it was right. 

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