The Story

About Jim T. 

In a past life I was the president of a record label called “Groovetone Records”. That job was just as cool as you would think it would be. One day I was in my 1976 Eldorado Caddy with the top down. I was waved down by a couple of yahoos who then invited me to lunch. It turned out that I was eating with Texas performer Pat Green and my good friend and Austin troubadour, Walt Wilkins. It was great hanging with them and when our plates were clean I hit the road. Six month’s later Walt sent me a CD and damned if they had not mentioned me and the Caddy in one of Pat’s bigger hits - “Carry On”. The line is “Walt why don’t you jump in Jim T’s Caddy, come down to Texas and drink with me a while”. The great thing about this is friends of mine from the old days heard this song over and over on the radio. I have answered the phone many times to the question, “is that you in that Pat Green song?!” and my standard answer is, “HELL YES!”. Another interesting part of this is Pat will change Walt’s name in the song with artists he is singing with at the time. So in theory I have had Willie Nelson, Robert Earl Keen and other Texas notables in my Caddy. TOO DAMN COOL! Thanks to Walt and Pat for immortalizing me and the Caddy in a song, a dream come true.

I say all that to say this - since my music days I still love great songs, fine playing guitars and good stories. Walt was in town a few weeks ago and asked me what new project I was working on. I told him I wanted to start a podcast that would allow me to interview singer/songwriters, guitar slingers and interesting music people in general all for the love of the music. My problem was that I had yet to figure out what to call it. Without hesitation he said, "Jim T's Caddy!" I usually think two or the times on things like this but he was exactly right. That night while standing in line to see Walt and the Mystiqueros at the Blue Bird Cafe I bought the url and here we are!

About the Caddy
 This is no ordinary car. My Dad bought this Eldorado Cadillac in 1978. It had 10,000 miles on it and was "triple white." It was always an unwritten rule that I did not drive the Caddy and I never did - until the end of this story. We drove this car to Lake Texoma on the weekends. We also took it on trips to Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It was a big part of my childhood. When I left Baylor University in the early 90s I headed for LA. Walt Wilkins was my film instructor back then and when I would talk about moving to LA he would always try to talk me out of it. Little did I know that Walt knew of what he spoke! I did pretty well in LA but it was a soulless town that I liked to call "the future tense of all things evil." My Dad called me one day and urged me to come home early for my brother's wedding in Dallas so we could spend some time together. I had a feeling he had bigger reasons for calling me. I made it in and was at my brothers in Dallas when we got a call. Let me stop this part of the story to jump to my Dad's part. That day my Dad had gone up to the shop to get the Caddy out. He told my Mom that he was taking it into Sherman to get the starter fixed so I could drive the Caddy while I was in town. That right there folks is a huge thing! That would have been the first time I would have ever "officially" been able to drive the Eldo. This is where the story goes South. While at the shop my Dad had a heart attack and collapsed on to the hood of the Caddy. They didn't revive him, but they did get him to the hospital alive. Now this is where the phone rings in Dallas. When that phone rang at my Brother's I knew something was bad wrong. While he was still on the line saying things like "yes, ok, ok" I was in the bathroom with an electric razor shaving off my goatee. My Dad hated my goatee and I had a feeling this might be the last time we would get to see him. My brother and I were never known for driving slow but that drive from Dallas to Sherman was an unusually fast one. We got there just in time to hold his hand as he slipped away. It was July 4th, independence day.

Losing your Dad is a pretty big thing for all of us and I was in the middle of all that when my Mom handed me the keys to the Caddy. She simply said, "Drive the Cadillac home." I walked out to that hospital parking lot with my insides broken into pieces and I slid into the white leather seat of the Caddy. The top was down. I turned the gold plated key and when the engine started up so did the 8-track player. My Dad had a mariachi tape cranked to 10. So there I sat in that triple white Caddy with the roof down, the 8-track blazing and my heart broken. I will say that little moment meant a lot to me and helped me in a lot of ways. It was a connection to the very last thing my Dad ever did. He took the time to get the Caddy ready for me to drive for the first time. He had the roof down and the wind in his hair, and he was cranking his favorite tunes. Not a bad last ride before you spin this mortal coil.

The Caddy made it out to LA with me. I had a yellow Catahoula hound named Cecil that liked to ride in the passenger seat. We went all over LA in that car together, me with my cowboy hat and him with his tongue hanging out. After being in the middle of the LA riots, 3 or 4 earth quakes, an attempted stabbing, attempted robbery, a mudslide, a forest fire and a series of bad relationships Cecil and I decided it was time to get out. We took everything we owned and put in a 1957 horse trailer, pulled the top back and made our way to Nashville.

Cecil is gone now but the Caddy is still here. When I ran Groovetone Records I drove it to work every day. I would sit in the office parking lot and remind myself to enjoy being a label president and enjoy being around the music. It has been in a Dolly Pardon movie. Dolly painted it electric blue because it's her favorite color. A few years back I painted it black. I'm a big fan of black.

I'll end with one last story about the Caddy. Years after the Pat Green song and most of my song writer friends moved to Texas I saw somewhere Walt Wilkins was going to play at Douglas Corner. I fired up the Caddy, turned up some Dwight Yoakam and headed that way. I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't seen any of the old crew in a long time. There was a spot right on the street by the front door and I pulled up and put her right where she belonged.  I walked in and it was like old home week! Members of the band came up and introduced themselves. Walt gave me a big hug and even played a few of my favorite songs. They invited me back to the after party. It was then I let it be known that the Caddy was outside and I would be happy to give a ride to whoever wanted one. Well brother I was surprised to see the lights go on in a few eyes. We headed back to the party in that long,  king sized car, making our way through that pretty Nashville night, friends together again, riding in style in that big black caddy.

No comments:

Post a Comment