If These Walls Could Talk

Album: Companero Blanco (2002)
  • Andy Hersey is a gifted songwriter with natural stage presence, and a propensity to be charmingly self-deprecating. He is good-natured and friendly, and good friends with one of the hardest working individuals on the concert circuit, Roger Clyne, with whom he sings this duet. But before anything else, Andy Hersey was a cowboy. From the time he was 16 years old and found his way to a ranch just outside of Tucson, Arizona (now part of the Colossal Cave National Park), he was herding cattle and shoeing horses. Sharing an old adobe stage stop with three other inexperienced teenagers, Hersey learned the trade that would earn him a living, and eventually lead him onto the ranch of Doc Clyne, Roger's father. A situation that has materialized into a successful career as a singer.

    It was his time spent on that ranch that gave him fodder for his first poem, which metamorphosed into this song. Andy says, "I wasn't even playing guitar when I wrote this poem. And then the reason I learned to play guitar was to put this poetry to song. It was three chords, and lonely, and it's way too long, but it's everything I was feeling at the time." The Tucson heat was oppressive, and the only way for the boys to keep cool was to water down their adobe hut. But in the winter, "There was a 50-gallon drum over in the corner with a little door cut in the side of it, and some hinges welded on, and that was how we stayed warm." As it turned out, the adobe hut had quite an illustrious history. "It used to be a Butterfield stage stop. And at 16 years old, I was just enthralled with the mood surrounding those adobe bricks that were how many years old? - 100 and some change. So I was thinking, Wow, here I am sitting amongst where all these cowboys came through. I wonder if Wyatt Earp sat here? I wonder if Doc Holliday sat here on the stage stop on the way to San Fran, or on their way to L.A. or whatever it was, the roads as they were then. It was tremendous. And I just started writing poetry, and I didn't share it with anybody then. This was the first song that I ever wrote and kept. It was a poem before I learned to play guitar. And I learned to play guitar to put music to that three-chord cowboy waltz."
  • Doc Clyne, Roger's father, was instrumental in getting Andy started in his new career as a singer. As the story goes, Andy was playing his guitar at the local tavern at night, and working for Doc shoeing horses during the week, and they became friends. "We used to drink beer together at the local watering hole. And after a series of longnecks, he'd always fall back to, 'You've got to meet my son.' And I would say, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Got that.' And then sure enough one night I'm playing a solo show, my normal weekend gig, solo, playing Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and Kristofferson songs, and two or three of my own songs that I was barely confident enough to perform. And here comes this group of long-hairs. And they all sit down right in the middle. And it was The Refreshments."

    When Andy took a break in between sets, Doc grabbed him by the collar and dragged him around face to face with Roger, told them to shake hands, and Andy says, "Immediately we struck up a friendship. Immediately. It's like we couldn't talk to anybody else. It was just like a brand new found brotherhood, it happened that fast." The friendship they formed all those years ago has prospered into successful music careers for both men, who continue to write and tour together, and their families have forged close bonds, as well. "It's all based on respect as songwriters," says Andy. But even with the limelight squarely on him most nights, VIP treatment at concert venues, and all the applause, Andy has not forgotten his gritty first career. He continues to get his hands dirty shoeing horses for Doc, riding the range, and reminiscing. (Read more in the Andy Hersey interview.)
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