Sunday, February 10, 2008

Good Evening

It' just about dusk here in Frisco, dad can see the sunset from the window in his room. That in it's self is encouraging because it means he's sitting up in bed. With his steady diet of medication he is starting to improve more rapidly. He walked around his room a little and is much more alert and talkative.

He enjoys sitting in his chair and listening to me read the comments people have posted on this Blog. He misses the one on one contact with people so hearing the kind words people have take the time to write really hits home. Thank you.

Sitting here in the room I tend to revert to the time passing technique that got me through most of my academic life, no it wasn't refers. Day dreaming, day dreaming has never failed me, it taught me what no teacher could.

I was just thinking about the first words I spoke and how I must have known my life was going to be different.

I was about two years old, yet to uttered a single word, mama, daddy,nothing. We were traveling through southern Utah, driving over Devils Backbone in our old rust red Datsun convertible. They call it Devils Backbone Because it's a high ,narrow, barely one lane road that drops of steeply on both sides. Well the car was packed , mom, dad my older brother Scott my sister Kay and a nice picnic lunch. I was sandwiched in the back seat between Scott and Kay were I couldn't see a thing. Frustrated with the seating arrangement I climbed over Kay's lap pulled my self up over the side of the back seat and peered over the side of the car at surely what was to be our fiery fate lying below. It was at that precise moment I blurted out "O Dod DAMN" The car screeched to a halt, once again silence.
I guess I just waiting for the appropriate time to burst forth with speech.


chico said...

Well Duncan ,that sure was a good time to start talking. Sure did laugh when I was reading that story!! Good luck to you all and hope tomorrow brings smiles.

coolhanduke said...

Duncan, your stories are such a meaningful delight in this troubling time. You have your father's ability to pluck wit and wisdom from the thinnest of air.

Please let Bruce and Joanna know that Joan and I are holding them in our hearts all day and long to see them home. We love and cherish them.

Dan Scanlan and Joan Buffington

Anonymous said...

All of Utah's friends at the Columbus Folk Music Society wish him well and are following this blog for news. Thank you for keeping us up to date. Utah, hang in there. You ain't done yet.

coolhanduke said...


Please pass along these comments to Utah from the ukulele madness email forum.
Thanks, Dan

Thanx for the heads up. Utah means a lot to
a lot of people and he is counted as a friend to many
of us who only met him once or infrequently were
graced with his presence. His wit and joy of song has
been an inspiration for many of us. Please pass along
our best wishes and let him know that we think of him
often. Particularly in song.
Hallllllaaaaloooya I'm a bum!



The USA, apart from great musical innovation, has produced some wonderful
storytellers. Utah Philips is one of the finest.

He seems resigned to his fate, and when the sad day comes, I wish him well
on his next journey. I guess he'll be bumming the road to heaven with Fryin'
Pan Jack and all those other great characters.

Andrew Perry

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, song re-modeller - and grumpy old man.

SirMelvinTheInconsequential said...

Thanks for the updates. I've been a fan of Utah's music since my dad introduced me to his LP of Good Though when I was three (threeannahalf) years old, and I'm proud to say that his music and stories permanently warped my world view. My thoughts are with you all in these difficult times.
Cory W.

Les Avenge Lexi said...

thank you. for this blog.

you can let your dad know that there's another person out here wishing him good health and a speedy recovery!

i have some pictures i would like to send you from a show he did with ani in grass valley. i will post a link to them in the coming days! i got to get them uploaded.

tucson, az

Saul said...

Hi Duncan,

Somehow I didn't know about this blog, but glad it was just mentioned on the Folk Alliance list. I have been kept up to date, though, by Mark Ross, and listened to your Dad's very touching podcast from the hospital room.

I often think of him and those wonderful days on the road together in the early 1970s (I was the harmonica-player), and fervently wish him back to health & home.

Saul Broudy
Philadelphia, PA

mudcat kat said...

It's obvious you were raised by a Master Storyteller! Thanks so much for the blog...keeping us up to date at what must be a difficult time. Loved your story of First Words.

Anonymous said...

Hey folks,

All us fellow workers out here in the chilly morning air (8 degrees) back in Buffalo at the Righteous Babe Headquarters are sending our love and well wishes. Isn't this interweb thing great? Too bad it doesn't make toast...

thinking of you,Utah.

-thank you Duncan.

Mary Begley and all the staffs at RBR.

Chico said...

Good morning Duncan; I just wonder if you could relay to your dad that he has changed my life. He has changed it in a positive way, from a man with a chip on his shoulder, to one with a better outlook on life.His word and song have a very calming effect, and make me Think about my place on earth. For all that I thank him and you. MY wife and I really enjoyed meeting you both in Homer,NY last year. It was a wonderful experience.I flagged for 30 years on the "Route of the Black Diamond", and I will be holding the west bound here as long as I can. God bless you all. Keith Bednar

Nory Fussell said...


So grateful for the podcasts and for your blog. We think of and speak of Utah throughout the days, wondering .... so its good to have these connections keeping us "in touch".

Please pass along our deeply-held, In Spirit well-wishes to Bruce and Joanna. Looking forward to that next cuppa conversation.

Dod bless, Dod speed and so much Love! And thanks, Duncan, for the :-)

Nory and Marybeth

Robert T said...


It seems as if your status as undecided is shifting. True?

For Utah .. .

Utah, I'd like to take a moment to thank you for the inspiration you catalyze in me. From sitting in the center of Broad and Pine, to helping people have a warm place to sleep, and remembering to laugh.

And now, showing your strength in difficult times reminds me to grow my fingernails long so I can hang on when I slide.

nltgm said...

Dear Duncan,

Thank you very much for this blog.

It might give your dad a smile to know that I have been playing his music to my sons, now ages 7 and 11 for many years. Their favorite?..."Moose Turd Pie", as you might've guessed.

Our love and healing thoughts to you all.

With deep gratitide,

Judith Hoffman
Ann Arbor, MI

Bucklebuster said...

Irony? Synchronicity? Mere coincidence? I had already made up my mind to look up Utah's email address and write him a note this morning, when someone forwarded me a link to this site. I've admired Utah's words and music for decades, but for some reason, he has been on my mind a lot lately. Last weekend at a music jam, a couple of his songs were played and I mentioned that he's one of my very favorite songwriters.

Just yesterday, I spent a few hours trying to learn probably my favorite of his songs: "Queen of the Rails." I knew this could be a difficult project, because I've never been able to listen to that song without literally bursting into tears. Even knowing ahead of time that it will just break my heart, I put on the record and still end up weeping anyway.

So, to learn the song, I had to transcribe the lyrics...normally a simple enough task, but I broke down repeatedly. Then, running through the song over and over, trying to get the words in my head and the chords under my fingers, I simply couldn't finish it. I'd have to stop and cry every time. Maybe it would happen on the first verse; maybe I'd make it all the way to the last chorus, but I literally couldn't finish it before choking up. And no, I'm not a crybaby; I'm just an average guy.

Learning a song often immunizes one from the emotions it conveys, and I do believe at some point I'll be able to perform it without breaking up, though I'll never do it as well as Utah. Still, now that I've looked at it from the inside out, I think it's one of the most perfect songs ever written. Every word is just so damn big and full.

Thanks for "Queen of the Rails" and all the other great songs and stories, Bruce. You're a giant. Feel better.

--Tom Smart, SLC UT

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Utah
I am just a fan - you don't know me personally.

But, I do love your music - and your style!

We have at least one thing in common: I am a certified grumpy old woman. "Good, though."

thank you so much for all the wonderful, inspiring, irritating, and humorous stories and songs.

I wish you and your family all the best.

Thank you, Duncan, for setting up the blog.


ec johnny said...

duncan, utah, joanna!

what a pleasure it is to send these words off to you today. the messages utah and joanna recorded were deeply appreciated by this random fan, and now, thanks to duncan's wonderful work, i get to tell you so! real thanks to all involved. utah, my friend, i must say you are one of the wisest folks i've ever encountered. i take great comfort in knowing that wisdom, combined with that of your caregivers could only lead to the soundest of decisions in any respect. so with many great cheers for california pacific, i now turn all my well wishing towards green lights, and get-go's in the direction of those footh-ills. i can only imagine all the folks steadfastly awaiting your return home and your return to the(YOUR!) community. soon-soon i say!! all our love until next time, and i do look forward to saying hello once again, and sharing, through this albeit impersonal, but darntootin' cool intertube-webby thing.

utah we love ya!! feel better soon!!

el cerrito, ca

Dixie at KNCO said...

Utah, Joanna, Duncan,

Know that many people are praying for you all and hoping Utah can get home soon to Nevada City .. and keep on writing those wonderful songs. You are all in many people's hearts today!

Aurita said...

I just today heard about the serioous
nature of your heart troubles, and am adding my very best wishes for
a good and steady recovery, and return
to health. I want to say this year will the year number 10 of Franklin and my marriage, and we are happier and still loving one another selflessly, as you requested we do back then. An amazing journey you have had for all these years, and the world is a better place because you are in it. I am holding you in the light, be well. in Love, Aura

Anonymous said...

Dearest Bruce and Joanna I hope you feel the love that you are being sent. You have opened my eyes, warmed my heart, and saved my ass. When I met you both I felt that you are kindred spirits and we must have known each other in a former life. There are so many ways in which I am grateful to you both, and I hold you both in my heart. Your truth and beauty are illuminating so many lives, and I wanted to thank you both for being two shining stars in my life. My sons favorite song is "Pie in the Sky", but you both deserve to have your pie now! Keep being as strong as you are, we love you.-Crystal Miller