O Brother, Where Art Thou?

As I promised in my last blog, I would like to devote today’s space to the person who most influenced me as far as the music I like, why I like it so much, and why I am the person I am today. That would be my brother Robert Allan Homewood.

More a father than a brother (since my own father worked so much he was rarely around – sorry, no sordid tales of divorce or prison time, just a dad with a son born late in life when he was earning decent money and had a family to support) Bobby’s love of music affected me a lot when we were growing up. With an eighteen year difference between our ages, Bobby had been exposed to music I hadn’t and was only too eager to share it with me, his nuisance of a brother. Cooler still, he could play guitar!

His favorites were the Rolling Stones, for whom he was a fanatic (no surprise that they are also my favorite band) and Neil Young. When I would ask him why all the people in the bands he liked looked so ugly and sang so bad he would just reply that rock and roll was about passion and truth other than looks or how well you could carry a tune. Of course, I am paraphrasing and shortening what he said but you get the idea that he was about the realness of music, not the facade and thank God for that as I have learned it and lived by it ever since. My brother wouldn’t tolerate boy bands and Britney and all the other poseurs who choke up the musical landscape. I don’t either.

To give you an idea: the first real concert I went to was with him in a little blues bar in Niagara Falls NY where we saw John Mooney, Duke Robillard from Roomful of Blues, and Muddy Waters. I believe it was 1980. Can you believe that? Muddy Waters!! I actually bought the tickets myself with money from my paper route as he just had a premature-born son and his job with Union Carbide wasn’t quite cutting it, but he suggested the show. He was killer! Muddy died soon after.

He was always a fan of the blues, and learned about them through the Stones, as I later did. He loved Muddy and BB and I remember going to record stores and buying blues albums because if I bought one he was interested in, he would let me come over (for a while he had a house across the street from my parents’ house)and we’d listen to it together. Often, his wife would come in the room and ask us what crap we were listening to but we understood how good it was. At least, HE did. I was just enjoying learning what was good and having fun with my brother.

My birthday hit when he was still having money troubles and I remember him giving me Damn The Torpedoes by Tom Petty and then asking me if he could borrow it because he didn’t have the money for two copies just then. He LOVED Tom Petty. And when I interviewed Tom Petty once, I told Petty this story. I don’t think he knew what to say. Bobby also liked Robert Palmer and Benny Mardones so he had a chinks in his armor like everyone else, though I still like that Mardones hit from the ’80’s. Makes me think of Bobby.

Robert Allan Homewood died in February of 1982 of a brain aneurysm. He was 34. It nearly destroyed me. I remember being called over to his house across the street by his wife Marie to get his albums and 45s because she knew he would want me to have them. I didn’t want them. I guess it was like I would have to admit he was gone. I took them anyway. For a while, I chased death like a hungry leopard. I was sixteen and not ready to lose my father/brother. I couldn’t kill myself, didn’t have the guts, so I tried to do it by ingesting any liquid, pill or substance I could. Luckily a friend got to me, and even had a drumset to bash on until the pain went away. I later learned to play pretty good and took up the guitar like my brother and play that fairly well too.

Everything I am I owe to my brother and father. After I finally got a chance to hang with my dad, I figured out my brother was just like him. Although only my dad loved Hee Haw. Now, I often give blues CDs to my dad for road trips (80-year-old guy still loves to drive)and he loves ’em!

I often wonder how my life would be different had my brother lived. I just wish I could share some of the music I have with him because I know he would like it though I am sure he is able to hear great music where he is. In fact, I AM sure of it.

Thanks Bobby – for everything.

The Music Nerd knows…..