We should all be so lucky that when we go, we are remembered fondly. What’s more is not to just be remembered fondly, but to have carved a place in our community, our state’s rich history, and the memory of all those whom we have touched. I did not know Bob Dyer, a “songteller” from Boonville, MO who passed away last spring, but as I sat at Duff’s earlier this week, listening to his friends and family sing his songs, read his poems, and tell stories about him—I felt as if he were surely breathing that same air in the room where I sat. Rarely have I ever seen so much life as people remember someone who has passed. It was touching, genuine, and it opened my eyes to what great impact we are all capable of.
As I sat there listening to the folk ballads—the stories of Missouri’s pioneers and native inhabitants, tales of river boatin’ and adventure—my foot tapping along with the music, the catchy chorus of each song getting stuck in my head, I thought “this is life”. It seemed to me that the point of it all is as much about what we do and how we live as it is about what we leave behind. Those were songs to hold onto and poems to sink into, and it felt like a part of Missouri’s rich tapestry that I had never really felt interested in or tapped into, and all of a sudden, it was making my foot move.
I didn’t know Bob Dyer before that night. I had never met him, and to be honest, I didn’t know too much about him. But I left there feeling like I had missed out; I wished I had known him. It seems to me his version of the Renaissance Man is dying out, and it’s a breed that I want to see last. His blending of folklore, history, song, and music—it was fantastical and larger than life. It was exciting and real in a very dimensional way, and it is something that I think we are beginning to lose. As the world changes and places continue to be erased, I wonder if we will still have people like Bob Dyer—champions of the story. We need it. It’s wonderful to hear a version of your state and feel like you are somehow a part of a story that’s bigger than just what you see.
As I sat at Duff’;s during the tribute, a lot of thoughts were running through my head. The one that repeated over and over? When I die, I should be so lucky if this many people care about what I lived for.
To learn more about Bob Dyer, take a look at his short biography posted on the website of his record company, Big Canoe.
Big Canoe Records