Ah ha ... You wouldn't forget him either, if you met him where I met him ...
Talking about desolation ... Lord ... Desolation is a railroad station, around about 2AM on a weeknight ... When you walk into desolation like that, and suddenly, out of nowhere, comes a warm song, you ain't about to forget it ...
This is the first time, though, that I heard him at an airport ... I know he moves along the piers ... Ah-Haaa ... He calls himself a journey agent ... A Eulipion ... Says his friends the poets ... The artists ... The musicians are Eulipions too ...
Hey! ... Listen! ... Listen to his tune ... Calls it his Duty Free Gift For The Traveler ...
Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Betty Neal
When you get down to it, Barry Crimmins is one of the fading number of Eulipions.
Barry would often joke and tease me about my love of Jazz, but as time went on, the years passed, the routine sharper and sharper, we would talk about the parallels of what he was doing on-stage, juking and riffing, going off on long solos, or finishing off a bit with a flourishing drum roll coolness.
A few degrees, a few shades and hues of a jazz performance.
Barry announced last month that he will cease performing on stage, ground down by the baseline of chaos-as-life, perpetually-ringing telephone and the relentless harshness of life on the road.
Barry has done the railroads, the piers, airports, buses and just about all other modes of travel over his 30+ years of performing stand-up comedy and satire. He's played the "big rooms", he's done the holes-in-the-wall. A portion of the time, he did it for himself, his career.
A larger amount of time, he did for others, benefits for social and progressive causes, the Peace Abbey, anti-war, Camp Casey, or maybe just a friend, who needed some help, or had undo medical expenses. On one occasion, lending a hand to a struggling jazz festival.
For his career gigs, Barry certainly got his accolades. For the other, Barry deferred credit, no bragging, no big-ego-star turn, taking no compensation for his appearances, or giving the pay to whoever the gig was benefiting.
And Barry is a complainer.
He will give you the shirt off his back, if that was what the situation dictates, and then complain that he didn't give it to you fast enough ... Or that he didn't have enough shirts with him to give to you.
It's been a treasure and a treat to have seen many of his performances. From the old Ding Ho, to the Improv, the Punchline and the whole mishmash of places he gigged. The tours he did with Jackson Browne, or Dar Williams. His live recording sessions. Drinking at a service bar at a Venice Beach café.
And while all that was fun and great, the bigger, longer-lasting reward has been his friendship. The warmth, the trueness, the ease.
He's only trading the stage for the internet, newspaper and magazine essays. More books too.
And for that, we all get more of Barry Crimmins.
Be sure to listen to his tune ... His Duty Free Gift For The Traveler.
You won't forget it, either.
Barry Crimmins Website
Barry Crimmins: My Opening Farewell
The last laugh
Adieu, a little - Barry Crimmins’s comic relief
When Stand Up Stood Out
Rahsaan Roland Kirk Website
Listen To A Clip of 'Theme For The Eulipions'
Barry Crimmins on The Garlic