My George speech….
My friend George Wesley received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Steamtown Music Awards tonight. I was asked to say a few words….and this is what I intended to say. I didn’t get to say all of it due to time and volume….but it’s worth sharing…for me anyway. God I miss him…
“I was thinking the other day what would make an appropriate monument to George. Came up with the usual suspects. A re-named street….with the street sign we could subsequently steal. How cool would it be to have a hot “George Wesley Boulevard” sign in your man cave? Maybe a bust on the square in Wilkes-Barre….where kids could pay homage, armed with illegal smiles.
How about plaques and custom bongs in every green-room on the East Coast?
The logistics might be tough for that one.
All of us dressing completely in black for the next 40 years?
But no….George was a giant…and a giant deserves something….well…BIG..
Scale is very important here….time to think outside the box.
So I googled Mt Rushmore. That seemed entirely appropriate.
Lincoln’s face is 60 feet tall. His eyes are 11 feet wide. His nose is two stories high. Now we were getting somewhere.
So George with a 60 foot face and 11 foot eyes and a 20 foot nose….over-looking the Susquehanna river. He’d have to wear the Tam….not enough rock for the dreads…..but the beard could hang down until it reached the tip of the river. Think of the tourist dollars! A six story beard.
And then I thought….well…..who else could be up there with him on that mountain? Even Lincoln has some company.
And…well…..no….there’s nobody else. He’d be up there alone. The old lion. King of the NEPA musical jungle.
The music. Music was like exhaling to George. That’s how naturally it flowed from him. Mozart claimed to be able to “write” music in his head. George could do the same thing. And if you don’t think that comparing George Wesley to Mozart is completely badass and rock and roll appropriate, then Vinnie and Frank’s bar is not the place for you this evening.
Me and George sat in my living room last year with a bunch of my lyrics and he instantly came up with fully formed melodies….as he was reading them. I don’t mean he hummed a few bars and tried stuff out on the fly…I mean INSTANT….memorable melodies, fully formed. It was like catching fireflies to him. To steal a line from Twain…..the difference between George and the rest of us is the difference between lightning and the lighting bug. We were friends for 20+ years and I never stopped being in awe of him.
We’d play these songwriter in-the-round shows…..and George would always play along to whatever song I was doing. Even if I told him not to because the song was so new even I wasn’t sure of the melody or the chords. I figured if I didn’t know……there’s no way he could.
And George would always smile and promise….and then he’d play along anyway….he’d guess where the song was going and was always right….and we’d finish and he’d say “I’m sorry man I couldn’t help it…” I said…..”you’re incorrigible” and he said…”yea….but it sounds good…!”
He’d go into his kitchen to get a drink, and he’d have his guitar with him. He walked into a NYC hotel with Diana….saw 2 beds….and immediately said….”Great….one for my guitar.” I love that story.
I once asked him to stand still while holding a guitar…..and see how long he could go without playing it. It was like dangling ice cream in front of a child. I think he lasted 8 seconds.
The last time we spoke…..I told him that I loved him. And he told me that he loved me. So I have no regrets. If that’s how it has to end between friends, I’d wish that for you too.
And as usual…..he signed off with “Jah bless”…
And after I hung up…..I had tears. But they dried. They always do. And for the first time I thought….
“Jah bless….……Yea…..he certainly does…”
I’m a better man because I knew George Wesley. I’m not the only person in this room who can say that. Show me….show him…..raise your fucking glasses….
“You count your blessings / when you count your friends”
How blessed we all were.
— tf 9/15/2016 11pm V-Spot Scranton, PA