Travis Edmonson of Bud & Travis
September 23, 1932 - May 9, 2009
Eulogy for Travis Edmonson by Mike Bartlett
delivered at the memorial service on May 28, 2009
Travis Edmonson's lifelong friend, Mike Bartlett delivered the eulogy at the memorial ceremony, and as vast as Travis' life as a human being was, Mike nevertheless managed to touch on all the things which made this man so special
FAME - numerous publications around the world printed obituary, including Manila in the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Netherlands - in Dutch - and of course, as witnessed by the people who are here today.
This is pretty incredible, for a guy whose recorded work was done 40 years ago. It speaks to the great talent he had.
Most knew him only through his music, but through that music they formed a bond with him that was, and is, magical. He became like a member of their own family - and indeed, his music has been passed down in families from generation to generation - there are so many stories of people hearing his music from their parents, growing up with that music.
His remarkable voice brought awe to those who heard it - no one could sing a more perfect, clearer, purer note than Travis.
His guitar playing was exceptional as well - and many a young picker who saw him play sooner or later would go up to him and ask "How do you do that?" and he never failed to show them. Unlike many entertainers, Travis was never territorial - he welcomed new talent to share the stage with him - introducing many of us to bright new stars who we might never have heard of if not for him - and a few not so bright as well! (chuckle) Although once he did tell me that he would never ever again share the stage with a banjo - and then proceeded to befriend a young banjo picker and perform with him.
He wasn't just a singer, or a picker, though - he was an entertainer, a total package - I remember quite well sitting in an audience as he taught a bunch of gringos how to do chiflitos and gritos, and then had them add them into his song - but first they had to toast - Arriba, Abajo, Al Centro, Al
He took full command of the stage, and of his audience. Just ask anyone who ever dared talk during a set! And from that stage, he did his best to educate - knowing that there were many from around the world who visited our great Southwest, and wanting them to know and hear, and appreciate the great music of the southwest that is our heritage. This is how and why he was named Tucson's Singing Ambassador of Good Will.
He sang many songs in Spanish, having learned them from his beloved mariachis as a child, growing up with his brothers and family singing and playing, slipping across the border into Nogales to hear the music that spoke so strongly to his heart. You didn't have to speak Spanish when Travis sang - the passion, the romance, it was all there. Who among us ever listened to Malagueña Salerosa without falling completely and totally in love - at least for that 7 or so minutes, anyway.
He was a storyteller, always with a story that captivated those who heard it - some of them pretty outrageous, and you just knew they couldn't be true - he had a saying that he got from the cowboys - "Well, if it didn't happen exactly like that, then it should have!" The amazing thing was not that his stories were so outrageous and told so believably - but that so many of them turned out to be true.
From his appearance in films at the age of 5 as Curly in the Our Gang comedies, to his recording career, his live performances, we all gained so much - but then there was his songwriting. This poet could put words together that literally took your breath away - and when put to music, became an anthem - whether to languid romance on a cloudy summer afternoon, the lost glory of Red Mountain or the Dark Places we used to love - or the Windsong we hear as sunset hits the peaks. He expressed the emotions that many of us feel but cannot articulate - and so he became our voice.
Most of us only saw Travis when he was "ON" - whether performing on stage, or at a table in the corner at Frank's. and he was almost always "ON". The man was a charmer like no other. Even when he was laying in his hospital bed, unable to speak, his powerful charisma captured the hearts of the nurses and attendants who cared for him.
But there was another aspect of this wonderful human, though - and it's my hope that this is what we will take away with us today. This man was so inspiring. Think of it - his entire being was focused on life as an entertainer - singing, playing, joking on stage - performing - and suddenly,
in 1982, that was cruelly taken away from him. I cannot fully comprehend how devastating that must have been - but I know that he, and those around him, went through some really rough times. For many, such a blow might have turned them bitter, railing against the unfairness of it all, constantly complaining about what they had lost.
That was not Travis. For 27 years, Travis continued to live, and love, life. He maintained a positive outlook, saying his mother taught him never to complain. He was still fun to be around. He could laugh and joke - and he did like appearing in public, whenever there were guitars and music - but he also really enjoyed just sitting around the table, drinking coffee and playing a silly dice game called farkle. I still don't really understand all the nuances of that game, but Travis always assured me that he won fair and square.
That, to me, is the most important thing to take away from my friendship with this man - follow his example, to take what life hands me, to accept it, and to move on - to be positive and enjoy - and love the time I have, as Travis enjoyed his time. and Travis, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for lesson.
I could stand up here all day and recount Travis stories - at least, the ones you can tell in church - but Travis touched so many others as well. We would like for those of you who wish to, to offer your memories of Travis as
with a very special Malagueña Salerosa