One thing leading to another can be a good thing

“Friendship is like an old guitar. The music may stop now and then, but the melody in the strings will last forever.”

—Source unknown, but it sounds like something Tom Lund would say.

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We’ve all said it at one time or another. “Isn’t it funny how one thing leads to another?”

Simple things like the cost of television dish, cable, this box, or that stick endlessly going up while the quality of programming with any of the above keeps going the opposite direction. Acting on that angst a few weeks ago, I declared myself done with it all. I dissed the dish. Cut the cable. And it’s been the first step toward better health. My blood pressure went down 10 points without television, and my outlook on life went up ten smiles a day.

Reinvesting wasted TV time in pleasures I once enjoyed, like music, led to remembering the uncanny connection between songs and old friends. Friends like Tom Lund.

I met the tall, broad-shouldered, cowboy-type musician with a contradicting Mid-Western accent while living in the Texas Hill Country. The newspaper I published did business with the advertising agency his wife, Tenlee, owned, and I forged a friendship with Tom through my fondness of Boerne’s live music venues.

Boerne was a musician’s community in the 90s. With a couple dozen restaurants and gathering places offering live music on just about any night of the week, it was also a music lovers’ community. I suspect it still is, but it’s been way too long since I’ve been there to confirm.

It was also a mixture of three differing cultures. Descendants of the city’s German settlers and bedroom community dwellers who worked in San Antonio were joined by a growing influx of newcomers. These were people moving there because they liked the small-town Hill Country way of life and the booming economy.

I never heard Tom and Tenlee say what brought them to Boerne, but a safe bet is that last category.

Tom Lund always had a smile on his face and a song to share. Most were his own, typically ballads about twists and turns in life. The kind of feelings set to music that offer a glimpse into the soul of a singer-songwriter.

His voice was as unique and as instantly recognizable as Willie Nelson’s. He didn’t sound like Willie, mind you. But just as the “Red-Headed Stranger’s” voice is recognized on the first note, you also knew Tom Lund was singing before you saw him.

Equally as unique as his voice was the story of his “right place and right time” career. Tom was a leading sales rep for a laparoscopic surgery tool company on the forefront of the device’s popularization in the 1980s. Having sold as many or more of them than anyone else in the country unknowingly put him in the position for a second career: a sought-after expert witness in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Tom’s “never met a stranger” personality led to our friendship. Listening to his songs with a sometimes cynical and often humorous perspective on lost love and the ups and downs of life’s relationships in Hill Country hangouts led to a new dimension of understanding in my music appreciation.

Going through my “vast store of music artifacts” (aka unidentified boxes of stuff in my closet) a few years ago, I ran across a cassette tape of his songs. It was a collection entitled “Lost in the Hills.” Tom performed with a friend whose name sadly became lost in the hills of time in my mind years ago. I remember only that he worked for the local vet, Dr. Lee Carriker. Tom and his veterinarian assistant partner performed together, calling themselves “Back Roads.”

Delighted with my discovery, I jotted the lyrics for a couple of my favorites, “Different Parts of Life” and “The Two Best Friends I Ever Had,” into my iPad and then spent a few minutes working out the chords. On occasion, I’ll strum old guitar strings and sing through one of them, letting the music take me down Texas Hill Country back roads 25 years ago.

I haven’t talked to Tom since I left Boerne in the late 1990s. He and Tenlee left after I did, and no one seems to recall which road out of town they took.

It’s nice, though, when one thing leads to another. Especially when a recovering television addict is led to remembering the melody of a friendship through the strings of an old guitar.

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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