Spirit of Andy Devine
The Spirit of Andy Divine Bob Ryan began performing professionally at the age of 11 and was a member of a working band by the time he was 14. He began writing songs at about the same time. As the son of a military family he crisscrossed America a dozen times in his first 20 years. That experience of rolling across the vast American landscape on lonely 2-lane highways during the 1950's and 60's left an indelible stamp on his life, and on his songwriting. The rivers, roads, mountains and plains of the American heartland, and the iconic images of American culture are woven deeply into his storytelling. With a voice and style that defy easy classification, lyrics that are both unambiguous and poetic, and a gift for memorable melody, Bob Ryan shares moments of faith, doubt, love, and regret through songs full of heart and humor. Like a good journalist, his chronicles of his own journey "down here on the surface" probe the universally shared experiences of the human heart - always anchored to the earth while keeping an eye on Heaven. In "The Spirit of Andy Devine," Bob takes a long, lingering look at life's impermanence ... from childhood memories and misplaced love affairs to heroic icons and the once-romantic image of the great American West - and western culture itself. In the album's title song, Ryan looks at the West as a boarded-up old boom-town, creaking and teetering along, while longingly searching the vast empty plains for a glimpse of the great heroes of the past. And hovering over them, Andy Devine, the hero's great comic sidekick, sadly forgotten by time. In these 14 tracks, we catch glimpses of Elvis and Patsy Cline, roadside taverns and long, unbending highways, freight trains, dusty farms and life on the Mississippi. Ryan introduces us to characters like the bitter Texas Jim, whose eyes are "... as wide and empty as the prairie south of Broken Bow Nebraska in the fall," and drifts us back into childhood, with it's 'long, slow days / the open-ended time..' But it's not all endings and lost chances. This album is, as the closing track claims, "... a song that comes out hopeful in the end."