Hailing from Pocatello, Idaho, Cyril Barrett’s path through this life was never dull. The people and places that populate his songs tell stories that resonate with the truths of life and death, love and longing. Having recorded for Glitterhouse Records in the 1990s under the name Larry Barrett, he found success on his terms, and became an integral part of Seattle music scene. His songwriting artistry is widely admired, but is second only to his kind spirit and generosity. Cyril’s relocation to Tucson came as a surprise to many, but once there, his desire to help others manifested in his efforts as a humanitarian activist for No More Deaths, an organization committed to the prevention of migrant deaths along the Arizona-Mexico border. He continued to write and perform his songs, and many on this record from this period were, until now, never recorded or released. This record represents the wide net that Cyril’s music cast and the musicians and friends who he influenced.
Song Order -
1. Ceramic Bowl - Laura Viers with Mount Analog
2. Where's the Plough? - Brian Todd Collins & Naim Amor
3. Like A Ring - Amy Rude & Doug Smith
4. Just A Word - Jesse Sykes & Phillip Wandscher
5. Jessie Harper - Earl Brooks
6. Down The River - Joey Burns
7. Ponies - Leila Lopez with Brian Green
8. The Gentle Kind - Gabriel Sullivan
9. How The Grass Grew - Vicki Brown
10. Trip To Merced - Aaron Gilmartin
11. Whisper To Me Gently - Emily Marsh
12. Sunset Hotel - Cristina Williams & Jamie Laboz
13. Fairytale Delux - SAND CLAN
14. Hand Silhouettes - James Fenimore Ikner
15. Down At The Piano - The Possibles
16. ICU - Lori Goldston & Kyle Goldston with Anne Marie Ruljancich
17. Coyotes Of Sasabe - Carlos Arzate with Ryan Alfred
18. The Banks Of The Ship Canal - Cyril Barrett with Paul Rigby
Production Credits -
Mastered By: Jim Blackwood at AZPM Mastering, Tucson, AZ
Photo credit of Cyril: Krista Niles
Canoe painting: Dan Amell
Design and Packaging: Michael Serpe at Heathen Call
About The Songs
Ceramic Bowl -
Artist: Laura Veirs with Mount Analog
Tucker Martine- Drums, percussion
Jon Hyde- Pedal Steel, acoustic guitar, harmony vocals
Laura Veirs- Acoustic guitar
Steve Moore- Piano
Eli Moore- Bass
Produced by Tucker Martine
Recorded by Michael Finn and Tucker Martine at Flora Recording and Playback.
Mixed by Tucker Martine
“I met Cyril (then Larry) in early 1993 when we both worked at the Two Bells Tavern in Seattle. We quickly bonded over our mutual love for John Prine, Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan. I got to record several of his records and play in a band with him. We had a hoot in the process. His songs paint pictures. His laugh was contagious. Listening now, the words of this song seem more relevant than ever. “It’s been too long and now I am unable”. Here’s to you, old friend!”
Where's the Plough? -
Artist: Brian Todd Collins.
Brian Todd Collins- vocal
Naim Amor- electric guitar
Recorded by Naim Amor live in the studio.
Mixed by Jim Waters.
Like A Ring -
Artist: Amy Rude and Doug Smith.
Alma Smith on back up vocals.
Recorded by Naim Amor.
Cyril picked this song out for Doug and I to sing together. I like to think it was his gift to us to remind us of the ephemerality of life, the gift of music to lift us out of misery and mundanity. Cyril embodied a kind of earth-bound essence. He was a man of music and mud and I am forever indebted to him for helping me stay grounded. His music possesses a kind of Western honesty and I'm so happy the world will continue to know it more because of this project. We miss him everyday.
Just A Word -
Artist: Jesse Sykes
Jesse Sykes- singing, acoustic guitar
Phil Wandscher- everything else
Recorded and mixed by- Phil Wandscher Recorded in Garage Band with no external microphones, on August 31st, in Ames, Iowa.
The day this was recorded we were hit by a huge storm later that night and spent a good amount of time in the basement waiting out a tornado warning. Somehow it made sense the biggest storm of the year was hitting us about the time Cyril was getting ready to leave this world...it also made sense that Phil was quickly passing through Iowa where we had no choice but to record it lo- fi and fast...Phil had been to see Cyril the week before he died when he asked us to do a song...I was hoping he would get to hear it, but he died the night we sent it to him.
I'll be honest...I'm not proud to admit it, but....I didn't want to do it at first. I was worried it would suck and that I didn't have the time to do it justice. Now I'm so glad we did, because it connected me back to the main reason I play music in the first place-which is as much about "the reason" as it is the outcome. I am grateful I got to be wrapped inside his song that morning and feel his essence from this new vantage point of looking outward. It felt like our last hurrah, the three of us together. What I loved about Cyril is he never seemed to lose that "reason" to play, whether the outcome was a hangover or a recording or a show...they were all one of the same. Our friendship took place over almost two decades and was laced with these amazing musical moments that often had few if any witnesses--they were just mini celebrations of life unfolding. They took place after hours, in back yards, in back rooms, campgrounds, on couches at 4 a.m., or in Cyril's living room in the afternoon.....
Luckily, my favorite song of his was not claimed..."Just A Word." Something about the way he sings
it has always gotten me right in that sweet spot ...So desperate and present—so distinctive. We
used to joke that playing music with Cyril wasn't as easy as you might think—his songs are more
complicated than they seem, and if they aren't complicated, they are still jam packed with an
authenticity that's hard to replicate and embody. The song sings of giving up to a crumpled self in
the wee hours, when that thin buffer that divides the night-self from the day-self starts to dwindle
and it's better to stay awake and drink the night away than to let ghosts and unrealized dreams
haunt and torment. He sings that feeling so well, he sang that feeling so well. Desperation, but not
desperate. Cyril occupied both in spirit and music that transitional space, which makes it all the
more fitting that he slipped away from us at midnight... I'm still trying to process him being
gone...I've never lost such a beloved friend to death that was also such a beautiful song writer—
aside from the memories, the love and the empty case that is my heart in the days after he passed -
there's the music. It is a gift. God, what a gift. Cyril, doesn't need to hear our version of his song--he
is the song. Jesse Sykes Sept. 21st 2014.
Jessie Harper -
Artist: Earl Brooks
All instruments By Earl Brooks, Drum programming David Houston.
I met Cyril in 1981 in Boise Idaho. One of my brothers in life, I wanted to write him a letter before I visited and was including the line that we had never fought. Then I remembered, that wasn't true. When he moved to Tucson he gave me a ride to Santa Rosa CA, that was a truly memorable trip, I was there when he moved to Seattle and when he left. So blessed to have known that man.
Jessie Harper always conjured up such a strong image to me. Like here's the story plain, upfront, now, think about it..
Down The River -
Artist: Joey Burns
Joey Burns– nylon acoustic guitar, pump organ, upright bass, and vocal.
Recorded and mixed by Chris Schultz at Wavelab Studio, Tucson, AZ.
Artist: Leila Lopez
Leila Lopez guitar & vocals
Brian Green- bass
The Gentle Kind -
Artist: Gabriel Sullivan.
How The Grass Grew -
Aritist: Vicki Brown
Vicki Brown: violin, guitar, vocals
Recorded by me in my livingroom.
This is the song of Cyril's that I always played first. It was the sheer simplicity of it and that phrase, 'they say the grass is greener on the other side' that always struck me for some reason, I never could figure out why. But when he asked me to record it, it became clear, what a portent those words were. This is the version he heard. And even though he held a steady hand on mine as he listened to it with eyes closed, gifting me with approving words, I still wanted to fuss with it. Which I did. I was excited to share my new recording with him but held off til it was too late. When I got the call in the middle of the night, I told Laura (Kepner-Adney) how much I had wanted him to hear the latest. But she discerningly said, no, the one he heard was the one that should go on the album, which I'm so grateful for. It taught me to accept things as they are, that recording his song with conviction and honor in the hopes of making him happy was what counted. Not how much more it could be. It was enough as it was. Despite having a penchant for perfectionism, Cyril didn't like a fuss. So this is the un-fussed recording, the one I would have wanted to play with him around the fire, him in his salt of the earth element. Here's to your perfect fire, Cyril.
Trip To Merced -
Artist: Aaron Gilmartin- vocal, guitars and hand percussion
Whenever I hear Cyril sing his gentle voice, guitar and harmonica bring clear and strong images to mind.
Cyril created powerful emotion uplifting us while writing about the hard things in life or the beauties, I feel lucky to have his sound in my ears and heart. Thank you Cyril..
Whisper To Me Gently-
Artist: Emily Marsh.
Emily Marsh voice, drums, keys, glockenspiel
Rachel Stevenson voice, ukulele
Jeff Stevenson guitar, horns, organ, knobs
Recorded in Alameda, CA + August, 2014
Cyril asked that I perform his beautiful song Whisper to Me Gently for the compilation. I recorded with Rachel Stevenson and Jeff Stevenson. Learning and singing his song helped me feel so close and connected to him even though I was here in Alameda, CA, too far to just run over and see him as I longed to do.
Sunset Hotel -
Artist: Cristina Williams
Cristina Williams: vocals & acoustic guitar
Brian Green: bass
Jamie Laboz: electric guitar, drums, percussion, engineer & mix.
There was a time when Jamie and I were sitting in with The Possibles - Jamie on lap steel and me on background vocals. I loved all of those songs - but every time we came to Sunset Hotel, I felt a special connection with it. Maybe it's because of the feeling of urgency or the nature of the story - a burning building that takes a quiet street by surprise - but I always loved singing behind Cyril's husky voice on it. So when it came time to choose a song for this album I knew exactly the one I wanted. I laid down the vocals and acoustic guitar tracks in my studio/office and then passed them on to Jamie. He wanted to keep the production simple, adding some haunting electric guitar and percussion. Then he called in Possibles' bass player, Brian Green, and they laid down a lovely track that complemented the vocals. Jamie mixed it and passed it on to Jim. It was a deeply emotional experience covering a friend's song like this.
Here's the backstory from Tom Moore: "The song describes the scene pretty well as I recall, I was out that night and saw some of it go down. I've attached a photo of the hotel after the fire. It ended life as a low-income weekly hotel for single elderly men. Its since been torn down and rebuilt as high-end retail space as this street is now hot property. Cyril managed a bar down the street, Hattie's Hat, for a decade or so back when he was known as Larry. Other than his name, pretty much the same guy."
Fairytale Delux -
Artist: SAND CLAN
sofie albertsen gelb - vocals
howe gelb - 1st guitar, fun machine, vocals
talula gelb - vocals
gabriel sullivan - drums, 2nd guitar
recorded by gabriel sullivan and howe gelb in tucson AZ mixed by g. sullivan too .
Hand Silhouettes -
Artist: James Fenimore Ikner & the James Fenimore Ikners
Fen Ikner - All instruments and vocals
Recorded and Mixed by Fen Ikner at TTO Studio, Brooklyn, NY
As for a note about Cyril/the song: I first got to know Cyril through playing drums for some early Possibles recordings, followed by a few freewheeling gigs, as the band always seemed to be between drummers. I don't think i ever rehearsed with them, so the nature of Cyril's songwriting really kept me on my toes- he's a master of the ultra-specific meander, not a guy who is interested in or confined by traditional song structure in the least, and he very much had his own melodic and harmonic sensibility. There are certain chords that I can't hear without thinking about him.
I wasn't familiar with "Hand Silhouettes" when I started recording. I had originally wanted to do "Ponies," from the more recent Tucsonan era, but Leila (yet another Possibles drummer) already had dibs. Cyril was still with us at the time, had seemingly gotten a little shot of positive energy from the notion of people recording his music, and had taken on curating the project. I told him I'd be glad to do anything, even one (maybe especially one) that I didn't know, and he hit me with "Hand Silhouettes." It was really cool to have a window into the life of a younger Cyril (Larry, I suppose), embroiled in life's messy and complicated social relations, years off from being the assured, gentle presence I knew.
I knew him as a quiet, intense gentleman, with an ever-present knowing glint in his eye. Even though he didn't say all that much, something about the way he'd regard you made you feel as if there was this warm connection far beyond whatever bullshit you were talking at the moment. A beautiful guy.
Down At The Piano -
Artist: The Possibles
Vocals, piano: Laura Kepner-Adney
Vocals, guitars: Tom Moore
Bass: Brian Green
Drums: Fen Ikner
Guitar: Jamie Laboz
Backing vocals: Cristina Williams & Jamie Laboz
Recorded and mixed by Jamie Laboz.
While I knew Larry back in the Seattle days as a friend and bartender, we didn't become close and collaborate musically until he was in Tucson as Cyril. He had his house robbed a few years back and they stole nearly all of his musical gear, leaving him one guitar. He stayed at my house for a few days after to try to heal the emotional wound of being robbed. He was pretty down on life, and we had some discussions about what to do with that lone guitar. I suggested he fight back against theft and hate by making more music, like the Whos down in Whoville. That's how The Possibles were born. The name came from the list of songs that might be played at a given rehearsal. Down at the Piano was a song that we attempted and rearranged a few times in practice, but it never quite developed to be ready for prime time. When this compilation idea came up, it seemed like the right time to finally bring it to completion. I recruited many of the original band members and collaborators to help with finishing this song and sending it out into the world. ~Tom
Artist: Lori Goldston
We recorded ICU at the house I share with Kyle Hanson, who is the accordionist. Anne Marie Ruljancich plays viola and we did it in one take, with me on cello. A few days later I overdubbed voice and guitar, also one take, and Kyle mixed it. In the interim Cyril had passed, which of course changed the feel and meaning of the song very radically. So many people in Seattle and beyond were deeply shaken by his illness and sudden exit from this realm, grateful and nostalgic and bereft.
I'd performed the song with him many times; singing it for the first time I was overwhelmed by the dreamy, ghostly beauty. I was always struck by how deeply he felt things, and by how close his nerves were to the surface-- something that nearly all of us stifle in adulthood. I hope he'd appreciate the raw shakiness of our version, and send it out with the hope that, if possible, it stretches a thread between this world and the next.
Coyotes Of Sasabe -
Performed by: Carlos Arzate & Ryan Alfred
Recorded at Superpro Studios in Tucson Az
Glad to have met you Cyril, thank you for spending some moments with me, it was an honor.
The Banks Of The Ship Canal -
Artist: Cyril Barrett & Paul Rigby
Cyril Barrett – Vocals + Guitar
Paul Rigby – Mandolin & Guitar overdubs
Basic tracks recorded by Naim Amor in Feb 2014, Tucson, AZ Overdubs recorded by Shuyler Jansen at Land-Swell Studio, North Vancouver, BC in Aug 2014. Mixed by Jim Blackwood at AZPM, Tucson, AZ.