I came back to the small town
where the dreams came from
way out here
— Daniel Makins
I’m not a big believer in magic chickens. But maybe.
The tale began with an email from Niece the Elder telling me there would be music Friday evening at the Chicken Farm. She didn’t know who was playing, but I figured what the heck.
Over the years at the Kerrville campfires, I learned that everyone has a good song or two waiting for an audience. Tonight, that audience would include us.
I wasn’t familiar with the performer, Daniel Makins, but he started on time, always a worrisome sign in a musician. Luckily, his first chords revealed he’s a formidable guitarist, and an impromptu goofing around during his opener that doubled as a soundcheck showed he didn’t take himself too seriously. I was sold.
He looked out and said he was glad to have Rick in the audience. He said that over the years, Rick’s writing had inspired him to spend endless hours on West Texas’ backroads in search of bluebonnets and old courthouses.
And it’s true. You couldn’t read my brother’s columns without getting the urge to roll down the windows and follow a little two-lane farm road wherever it happened to go. Those were the days before a phone gave you directions. Maps? Maps are for suckers. You just followed the stripe on the asphalt to see where it went.
It was a great set, and the hour went by way too quickly. I’ll never know why some people become famous and some don’t, but it sounds like Daniel’s life has given him a pretty great soundtrack, even if it’s now playing in Abilene. Sorry, Abilene.
As Daniel was about to launch into his final song, he stopped. “Before I play that one, I want to share a song that Rick inspired,” he said. And then he played a song called “Way Out Here.” You can find it on Spotify. It’s a wonderful ballad about life and exploring and growing up, and it really is a fitting anthem for Rick, a guy who spent his life wandering across this little piece of cactus-thorn heaven.
Rick loved it. He flashed a huge, embarrassed smile and gave me the elbow. He NEVER gives me the elbow.
Kathy asked a couple of days ago what people can do to help as Rick continues his journey down this new road. I think Daniel found the secret. Do what Rick would do. Stage a Club Sandwich. Write a story. Sing a song. Fling some bluebonnet seeds. Take too many selfies with courthouses. Live your life. Way out here.
Rick never liked to be in the spotlight. He was the guy always pointing the spotlight on other people and places and small dogs you wouldn’t notice otherwise. Now it’s your turn. Pick up his spotlight and make it your own.
Try something new each day, Maude told Harold. After all, we’re given life to find it out, she said. It doesn’t last forever.
I wrote Anne afterward to marvel at the twist of fate that landed us at this particular place with this particular person on this particular night.
“Chicken Farm Magic,” was all she replied. She’s a smith girl. She knows things.
Rick’s not going away anytime soon. but someday when he does, I know what song I’ll be playing.
Magic chickens indeed.