Saturday, February 18, 2012

Musical Couples: Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer: Seven is the Number


"Yesterday, shortly after he went unconscious, he came back for a lucid minute or two to tell me, 'I just died... Baby, I just died...' There was a look of wonder in his eyes, and though I cried and tried to deny it to him, I knew he was right and he was on his way. He stayed with me a minute more but despite my attempts to keep him with me, I could see he was already riding that thin chiffon wave between here and gone. He loved beauty, he was hopelessly drawn to the magic and the light in all things. I figure he saw something he could not resist out of the corner of his eye and flew into it. Despite the fact that every rescue attempt was made by paramedics and hospital staff and the death pronouncement officially came at 12:08 pm Eastern Time, I believe he died in my arms in our favorite hotel, leaving me with those final words. That's the true story I am going to tell." - Tracy Grammer’s description of the death of Dave Carter, July 2002
There are romantic elements to the account above, as well signs of a spiritual path that a cynic might be tempted to dismiss. Don’t. Carter and Grammer really were one of those couples who were completely, magically, in love. Dave Carter was the songwriter for the duo, but Grammer was an equal partner. I think of them with her fiddle lines intertwining with his guitar, and with their voices meeting as equals, regardless of who sang lead on a particular song. I think, in other words, of the sound of songs like Seven is the Number. I only got to see them together once, and that’s how I remember it. I got to shake Dave Carter’s hand before he disappeared backstage to take care of something. He left me with Tracey Grammer, and she was generous with her time, and took me, merely a fan she had never met at the time, seriously. They had played a song so new they hadn’t named it yet, and they had asked the audience for suggestions. The eventual title was Mother, I Climbed, and Grammer recorded it on one of her solo albums after Carter’s death. Grammer’s love for Carter has lasted well beyond his death. There is even a brand new album of songs they did together that Carter left behind. (I will have more to say about that album soon on Oliver di Place. Stay tuned.)

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