Some Notes on the Early Days
by David Henderson

David Henderson is a long-time friend of Bill's and plays bass on Something I Saw or Thought I Saw.

Bill and I have been friends since 1969. As it goes with long-term friendships, there have been times when we've been in close contact and years when we only touched base occasionally because geography, family and everday life was going on. We do share a memory of an event that took place at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1969, which leads us to believe that we met there...but can't prove it. We really met as incoming freshman at Plymouth State College that following fall. I was a local, a day student, and Bill came to town with the Guild guitar that he still uses. I believe we met when we both joined the college radio station. The goal of the station management was to emulate those terrible AM stations that featured rapid fire dj's occasionally interrupted by terrible pop records. The best dj's were those that spoke the fastest. Bill spoke at about the pace and in the same tone that you are familiar with today. I spoke a little more rapidly, but with less of a point. Bill did a folk show - mine was an "underground" rock show. We both had to furnish our own records (they really were records then - the battle between 8 tracks and cassettes was raging but vinyl was king). There was a coffee house in a local church rectory hall where some of the musically inclined types hung around. I remember that my girlfriend and I left her high school senior prom to go hang around at that coffee house with Bill and other friends. I can't say I remember the exact moment that we first played together, but it would have taken place sometime in that fall of 1969.

Neither Bill or I thrived at PSC, at least academically. I believe that he "withdrew" shortly before me. When I got a high draft lottery number I dropped out. Bill moved to the Philadelphia area and I stayed on in Plymouth. Somewhere in that era, Cormac McCarthy came to Plymouth. I have a distinct memory of the first time I met Cormac (also at PSC radio). Bill seems to think that after he moved back north I introduced him to Mac. That's sort of like accusing someone of introducing Mutt to Jeff...Laurel to Hardy...Starsky to Hutch. I do have memories of both of them performing around Plymouth. They were good songwriters and performers even as kids. Both possessed a "wicked good" sense of humor. I don't know that we ever did any gigs as a band...bass players are not often called upon when the performer is depending on tips for his living. We did have a lot of laughs together. One coffee house on main street was called "Ah Wilderness." Bill painted a mural of clouds in a blue sky on its exterior. It remained until the early 1990's when the new owner re-sided the building. Beneath those cedar shingles lies a Morrissey original. I also remember David Raitt, Bonnie's brother, performing at that coffee house. Another local restaurant that always featured good singer/songwriters was Suzanne's Kitchen. There was a lot of live music around here then...less now.

Bill and Mac moved on to the seacoast area and did what they've done. I stuck around central NH and always played in area bands. I hooked up with Marc Elbaum (sax and clarinets on Something I Saw...), 25 or so years ago, and now... here we all go again. So, I'm really enjoying this time, after all of this time, to have the opportunity to make music with Bill again. I think we ought to rip those new shingles off the "Ah Wilderness" and restore the mural to its former glory.


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