Muse Unveiled

A songwriter's story of the birth of a song

In this, our premiere edition of our new series Muse Unveiled, Larry Lee—Springfield, Missouri-based singer-songwriter and founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, which began as more of a songwriters’ coffee klatch than a cutting edge country-rock band—tells us about the catalyst and conception of “The Last Hoedown.” This enchanting song was released on Further, the third album of Beyond Reach, a trio with David Wilson and Daredevil co-founder Randle Chowning. 

Please cry and celebrate with us as Larry shares an intimate family tale of creation. 

~ NWM

Larry Lee: The Last Hoedown

Photos courtesy of Larry Lee

Larry Lee

Dreams 

Dreams have always fascinated me. At best I can only remember small portions of them. Most of the time I don’t remember dreaming at all, though I’m pretty sure that at one point or another during the night I do. Sometimes, if I wake up slowly, I’ll be aware that I’m dreaming, and I can hold on to it until I’m just about fully awake. The weird thing is, as I become more fully awake and try to hold on to the dream, it starts to rapidly dissipate until: Poof, it’s gone.

In most of the dreams I remember bits and pieces of, there comes a point when I seem to be going from one place/situation to another. I’ll be in a room and then for some reason I’ll walk down a hall, or go through a door that leads me to a completely different place. Then, once I am down that hallway or through that door, if I turn around, the hallway or door will be gone, leaving no sign of where I’d come from. Pretty frustrating sometimes if in that dream there was something I was doing, like playing some amazing song I’d never heard before, or maybe someone’s there who I didn’t want to leave behind, only to find the passageway back had dissolved, disappeared.

… the hallway or door will be gone, leaving no sign of where I’d come from.

This song’s raison d’etre (reason for being) comes from a dream my father had shortly before his death. In and of itself the dream he told me about is not the inspiration for this song. It was instead the notion of there being a dream state between his life and death that intrigued me.

There He Is

My father was under the care of hospice—meaning life becomes a day-to-day uncertainty. One of those days, I received a phone call from his care facility advising me that dad had drifted into a coma and that I should come to his side as soon as possible. Upon my arrival, I could see he was unresponsive to my voice. It was then that the hospice nurse whispered to me that the end may be approaching. 

I sat and spoke to him for a while. The nurse said she believed dad would hear me even though I might not see signs that he was. Later that evening, my stepmother told me she wanted to stay with him overnight and that I should go home and rest and come back the next morning to relieve her watch. Back home, I fully expected that at some point I’d get a call that dad had passed, but I did not receive the call. The next morning, I drove back to the care facility not knowing what to expect. 

To my surprise, I opened the door to Dad’s room and there he was—sitting up in his wheelchair reading a book just like I had seen him do so many times before. Then I heard his familiar greeting: “There he is.”

Beyond Reach

Beyond Reach L-R: Larry Michael Lee, Randle Chowning, David Wilson

The Last Hoedown

I sat next to him and told him I had been there the day before but that he was … “asleep,” for lack of a better, less confusing word to convey to him. It was then that he told me of a strange, long, drawn-out dream he had which didn’t make much sense—with odd images and places he was not familiar with. Then, at one point in his dream, he said, he could see his room and everyone in it, but couldn’t communicate.

I too might drift off into a dream which would take me on to whatever lies next.

Dad died not many weeks following that day. A few months later, as I was mulling over this new melody and looking for what to write a lyric about, my father’s dreamstate came to mind. I started to daydream and imagine what if—like my dad—when my time comes, I too might drift off into a dream which would take me on to whatever lies next.  

“The Last Hoedown” is what I envision and truly hope my final dream journey might be like one day.

The Last Hoedown 

By Larry Michael Lee

dream you’re the wind

in a whirl – in a spin

as you fly – cross a yard

to a field – not so far

pass the woods – down a hill

jump a creek – feel a thrill

hear a bow – hit a string

then you’ll know – when it sings

you’ve been bound – for the last hoedown 

right by a lake

there’s a wall – where a gate

opens on – to a place

where light dew – leaves a trace

of footprints – on a lawn

like a trail – come upon

or a chord – when it rings

that in turn – softly brings

you the sound – of the last hoedown 

every soul will be there

brought on beams of white moonlight 

lending voices on air

calling dances ’til twilight 

then right –

there in the glow 

of a fire – you’ll be told

through an old – fiddle song

that at last – you belong

and you’ve found – the last hoedown 

every soul will be there

brought on beams of white moonlight 

lending voices on air

calling dances ’til twilight 

then right –

under a tree

join the new – jubilee 

step by step – toe to toe

to a timeless – banjo

shadows dance – in a line

arm in arm – intertwined

all at once – you’re aware

as that fiddle declares

to all around – it’s the last hoedown 

that fiddle sounds – it’s the last hoedown 

(c) leewardmusic BMI

Larry Lee

Larry Lee

Photo by Jim Mayfield by permission of Larry Lee

Singer-songwriter and performing and recording artist from Springfield, Missouri, Larry Lee is a founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, a nationally recognized band in the early days of the country rock movement of the 70s. He wrote "Jackie Blue" for the Daredevils, which reached number 3 in ’75. Larry has spent a lifetime in music, including 23 years in Nashville where he recorded and toured with Jimmy Buffet. He also was a Nashville producer, producing 13 number 1 hits for Alabama alone. He was performing and writing with The HigLeeWils—an Ozarks-based trio composed of him, Emily Higgins and David Wilson—when the pandemic canceled their schedule.

To learn more about Larry and his life in music as well as to view his outstanding nature photography, go here: https://larrymichaellee.com/

For three songs written by Larry for Beyond Reach—with Lee and Randle Chowning, also a founding member of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, go here: https://larrymichaellee.com/with-beyond-reach

For another sublime songwriter read our review of Joe Dillstrom: Highways & Byways.

Read more about Larry Lee in our High Notes piece Randle Chowning and Larry Lee: Beyond Daredevils.

You may also enjoy Larry’s entry in our series The Day the Music Died.

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