Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Everything's beautiful now

Wick's World


Christine Albert was singing the last lines of her tribute song to Chris Gage’s mother titled “Everything’s Beautiful Now” when the “blue moon” of July 2015 appeared in the night sky. Her musical and marriage partner Chris Gage followed up with his personal tribute to the moon singing their hit song “Full Moon Night.”

Written by Christine, “Everything’s Beautiful Now” tells the story of spending the finishing days with Chris’ mother before she passed away. The last words she spoke were “Everything’s beautiful now.” She then closed her eyes for the final time. What a wonderful way to go. Personally, my motto has long been, “I want to die in my sleep like my grandpa. Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.”

If I am still conscious when I die, I could only hope to speak words as poignant as she did. While Christine was singing the chorus to the song, I reflected on how beautiful the summer of 2015 has been for Minnesota. The hot, muggy days were at a minimum and the rains seem to fall just in time to keep our northern jungle lush and green.

Chris Gage, a longtime friend of mine from South Dakota, has been the leader for Jerry Jeff Walker’s band for almost a decade. The Minnesota Zoo was added to their summer schedule a few years ago. They enjoy our green state so much they have made the stopover an annual occurrence. My wife and I get the luxury of shooting the breeze with Jerry Jeff and the other band members, usually at the hotel patio, following the show.

Musicians tend to be night owls and this band is no different. We stayed up well past our normal bedtime hour (if there is such a thing anymore) and listened to Jerry Jeff talk of life. He was quite the drifter back in his youth as attested to in his most popular hit song “Mr. Bojangles.” Although he died some time ago, Bojangles is as real a character as is the story line played out in the song. Although Jerry Jeff Walker (except for “Mr. Bojangles”) never really did become a national star, in his acclaimed home state of Texas, only Willy Nelson looms as large.

After the hotel bar closed, we eventually found our way to the parking lot at one of the many Marriot Inns. We were sipping beer from a can when a friend of mine went to his car to retrieve a book I had loaned him. The book was titled “A Pirate Looks at Fifty.” It is a tale written by Jerry Jeff’s best friend — a guy named Jimmy Buffett.

Both singer songwriters spent their youth in upstate New York. They eventually headed to greener pastures to see where their music took them. Jimmy Buffett settled in Key West. Meanwhile, Jerry Jeff headed to a newly established night club in Austin, Texas, called the Armadillo World Headquarters. The legendary bar may be history but Jerry Jeff still lives at a place called “somewhere in Austin.” He wasn’t about to give out specifics to Chris’ old South Dakota buddies.

What he did give out came as quite a surprise to me. When I got home, my South Dakota buddy who had returned the book to me said, “Wick. Look inside the cover.”

Inside the cover of Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” were written the words, “To Wick, Jerry Jeff Walker.”

That autograph has to be one of a kind.


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