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The Boys of Belvedere: Dan Jewett

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Friday, May 13, 2011

The Boys of Belvedere: Dan Jewett

Everyone I met in San Francisco can be traced back to one man, Dan Jewett.  Tom Pitts once described Dan Jewett as a guy who looked like he got lost on his way to the Renaissance Faire and couldn’t find his way back.  Which is really funny if you knew Dan when Tom knew Dan, during “the salad years."

You wouldn’t know it to look at him now, but Dan used to be quite pixie-like, sort of like the Elf in Gauntlet.  “Elf needs food badly.”  And we did in those days up in Hepatitis Heights.  What made Dan so valuable at that time was he was a link to my past.  He was still a mess, too, just not as bad at Tom Pitts and I, and I’d known Dan long before the fall.  

A slight Robin Hood, with fire red hair and a little Van Dyke pointed beard, Dan was a trixster who played guitar.  I met him when I answered an ad in the SF Weekly looking for a singer.  Now, I wasn’t much of a singer, but I was enthusiastic, and I could write lyrics, and the guy I was replacing, Rob, had the lyrical acumen of a frat boy challenged by the complexity of Steve Miller.  At one of our first practices, I picked up a bass and started playing a blue's walk-down.  Dan stood in the hallway until I stopped.

The band was called Puddle, and we weren’t very good.  The band itself was an offshoot of the Himalayans, which had been fronted by Adam Duritz, whose Counting Crows were just taking off.  I wasn’t aware of the magnitude at the time.  It must’ve been tough for Dan, getting so close with a singer currently rocketing into the rock ’n’ roll stratosphere, and being saddled with me as a replacement.  (Dan shares a writing credit on the song “Round Here.”)

But Dan and I had a deeper bond than music.  I’ve written enough posts (as well as an entire memoir) about the drug use, so I’m just going to give you the lyrics and link to a song I wrote for Dan from the recent Wandering Jews EP, Down on the Farm.  I’d planned on dedicating this to Dan at our last show at the Red Devil, but he got sick and couldn’t make it.  So here’s to you, old buddy…


Sometime after midnight
, met the man at the Arco Station
and by two a.m., my heart was racing.

I don’t know how it was 
we didn’t die that night,

how all those years we stayed alive.
There was a place we used to crash 
out by the freeway;
we’d listen to the boats in the shipyard,
 saying we’ll leave too someday.
And the teenage drummer,
 he’s run on home.

There’s no more music tonight
 in the hollow of the boneyard.

And my pretty baby
 I swore I’d die for?

I gave her away like everything else 
I ever loved.
Watching bruised city nights 
from rooftops full of stars,
and we swore we wouldn’t end up like these clowns.

Tonight I took a walk 
down the circus of Mission Street.

It was cold, but it felt good 
to remember all these things.
There was a house on a hill,
 a place you wouldn’t want to stay.

We all died a little there;
 we never really got away.
And the rumblefish 
stranded on the beachheads.

No cares about making stands 
or waving any fists. 

And all my friends,
 we swore we never lose touch?

Got a call the other day,
 saying, Hey, ain’t it great we’re still in touch?
But sometimes when I close my eyes,
I can see your house 
and I know it’s gonna be warm inside…
And the teenage drummer, 
she’s run on home.

There’s no more music tonight
 in the graveyard of my city.

I still clench my fist, 
hold it up high,

for skateboard kings and gutter punk scene and this holy fire.

For the down dog preacher, 
and the rock ’n’ roll saint,

for the angel with the broken wing 
and the dirty face.
(Dan's latest band, The Hollyhocks, are currently finishing up an album, as well as playing around the Bay Area.  Check them out!)



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