The Earlybird Cafe

For Danny...

...This is the song we did everywhere we went, whenever we did our duet thing.

I had a little shack on the Bolinas Mesa, about two miles from the bar in town. Most nights I was too lit up to make the walk, so would stagger across the street to Scowley's restaurant, climb in the window of the pool room, and sleep on the pool table. Since I worked in the restaurant, I would simply wake up in the morning, & get busy. Often, Danny would be up & around, & would show up at Scowley's door while I was still mopping the floors & prepping the kitchen. He'd come in & make a pot of coffee (mud) & hang out until the cook showed up.

At that point we would usually find our way to the old upright piano in the pool room, & would spend the next hour or so singing & playing for the breakfast crowd.

The breakfast crowd often included people such as Jerry Garcia, Jesse Colin Young, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Alan Watts, & assorted other famous types. It wasn't uncommon for someone to show up with a six pack & a guitar, which usually sent us into a day of jamming & foot stomping.

Both of us were really prone to looking back on those times wistfully, especially as the years went by & life became more complicated. Whenever we were together, through the years, we would sing The Earlybird with great fondness for those times.

Listening to the lyrics of the song today, it carries so much more nostalgia, & a certain eeriness. We used to introduce it by saying, "...and now, a happy song about death." The song was written by a guy named Lane Teegan, who's claim to fame was flipping burgers at The Trident, in Sausolito, as taught to us by Frank Fee....

The Earlybird Cafe
    Everybody's laughin' at the Earlybird Cafe
    I've been headed there since yesterday, I believe I've lost my way
    Charlotte's there in organdy, Billy's there in suede
    Y' know that money's in their pockets, & all their dues are paid
    there's wine on every table, & food on every plate
    well I hope I get there pretty soon, before it gets too late
Someone asked me what time it was - I told him it was now
he asked me just what that might mean, but time would not allow
so I gave away my watch to a passing businessman
I hope he understands me now - I've done the best I can
But it was getting early, as I rushed away from there

with that ancient earth beneath my feet
and new dust in my hair
    So I went on down the highway to the other side of town
    my clothes was gettin' wrinkled, & my socks was fallin' down
    but I could not stop to pull them up, for fear that I'd be late
    so I kept on runnin' down the road until I saw the gate -
    of the Earlybird Cafe, glowin' golden like the sun
    everybody they laughin' & callin',
    "Come on in, we've just begun !"
    So I went on in, & I set right down, & I ordered me up some wine
    y'know the talk was fast & clever, & the women all was fine
    Charlotte asked me where I'd been with my jaded ivory eyes
    I told her I'd been hung up, with some begger in disguise
    She laughed like temple bells,
    she kissed me on the cheek & said:

    " It's hard to be alive sometimes.......
    but it's easy.........
    to be dead!"

(Recording of Doly & I kicking out The Earlybird on an old piano, circa 1977)

DANIEL (DOLOMITE) W. MATHIS, age 47, passed away in Melbourne, Fla., on October 6th, 1996. "Doly" was a performing songwriter noted for his strong tenor voice, and tight rhythmic keyboard stylings. His songwriting style spanned all genres, from country rock to jazz. He attended high school in the East Bay area of Contra Costa County, Ca.. His strongest musical influences were from the artists of the West Marin County area in the late 1960's & early '70's, who were his contemporaries at that time; such as Jesse Colin Young, Rosalie Sorrels, Huey Lewis, and Steve Miller. He lived in the town of Bolinas, Ca.,for several years, where he spent much of his time entertaining, surfing, fishing, & developing his unique song stylings. He toured nationally, as a single performer, and with several bands, Sharing the bill with artists such as Jim Messina, Taj Majal, Asleep at the Wheel, and John McEuen. Doly lived in the Denver area intermittently from 1977, through 1995, also residing in Juno, Alaska; Breckenridge, Co.; Idaho Springs, Co.; Ft. Meyers, Fla.; and Nashville, Tenn., during that period. Known for his imposing stature, (6'3", 360 lbs.), and colorful tattoos, Doly was also gifted with a swift and disarming wit, which won him friends from all walks of life. He suffered from numerous health problems in the recent past and suffered cardiac arrest on October 3rd. He was removed from life supports two days later, and died peacefully, surrounded by friends and relatives on the following day. He is survived by his sister, Susan Martinez, of Vallejo, Ca., and a host of friends and admirers.

I ll always hold in heart the exceptional love that we two brothers shared in our wayfaring lives together. He was my sidekick, & my partner He was my teacher, and at times I was his. He is embedded in every note that I play, & all my fondest memories. Danny's ongoing infection was clearly the result of the abuse of contaminated IV drugs. Although he died with fourteen days clean, Drug addiction ravaged him, & stole him from us all.

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