I met Bobby Sharp in 2003. We were introduced by our common landlord. We soon became friends, I helped him keep his house clean and his papers organized. In 2008 he fell a couple times and after a couple hospital stays I also became his caretaker. In July 2012 one day I couldn't reach him, rushed to his home and found him on the floor. After a short stay in a nursing home I arranged for him to return home with 24 hour care. I knew the day he came home would be the most beautiful day here on out; he was so happy to return home. Subsequently ...
Life without Bobby is much different for me; for the last 10 years I spoke with him almost every day, to make sure he was ok. And also when I needed a laugh, or a better perspective. Bobby was a great listener with a great sense of humor and wonderful expressions: "Look before you leap", "You can't dance on every set", "You're going to stay home and take it easy!?", "Be cool", "I'm glad you called", "Can't see for looking", "Tempis fugit", "Tell you know who I say hello". And one of my favorites: "Listen with a third ear". He had learned that from a psychology book in the 50s. I used it on him sometimes and would say: "I've been listening to you with a third ear Bobby..." I can still see his look and his smile when he would catch me being a smart-ass. In context each one of these expressions were priceless and comforting. Bobby was a real gentleman. He always made sure to tell me how much he appreciated my help. I remember taking him to his medical appointments, and he would say: "I want you to know, I really appreciate this." He would say it a few times to make sure it reached destination. And I would tell him he was welcome, and I was glad he told me, and that though I wished it were under different circumstances I enjoyed spending time with him no matter what. Which was true. He was precious. When I would leave his home he made it a habit of standing at the door until I reached my car, and so we had this ritual where I would turn around and wave at him many times :"See you Bobby", "See You" he would say again, and we went through this 3 or 4 times until I reached my car. I used to wonder why he did this and decided one day it was his way of absorbing the moment and making every moment count, and letting me know how much he cared. Bobby had the rare quality and ability when you found yourself in his presence to slow down time. Suddenly when I would enter his house and visit him not much else mattered: he was there, a good friend, with wonderful stories to tell, warmth, humor, understanding, and beautiful songs he played me on the piano or his cassette player! In 2007 Bobby gave me a song to release that he had written in 1947, and for which Nat King Cole had shown interest. In 2011 and 2012 Bobby and I, and musician friends, recorded it together at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley: he played the piano part, later we sang it as a duet. It made him very happy to be in the studio again. It was Bobby's last recording and last time in the studio before he passed. To see "Hand In Hand - The documentary" click here. Bobby talks about his Tin Pan Alley days and "Hand In Hand" the song. And we sing together at the end. It is very touching and I'm so grateful to Lincoln Adler for having taken the initiative to produce this documentary which I think is a great tribute to Mr. Bobby Sharp. To get a copy of the duet Bobby and I sing together, "Hand In Hand", go here and buy your copy. It is only available on my last CD. Do me a favor: don't release it on the internet, and don't burn it for anyone, ask them to buy it if they like it. Thank you!
Here is Bobby at Fantasy Studios with all of us the day he came to record the vocals for Hand In Hand with me:
Photo by Kris Mikkelson
I am so grateful to have had such a wonderful man as a close friend for 10 years of my life. I miss him, and have discovered, call me crazy I don't care, that I can still have conversations with him! He doesn't respond physically, but I can run things by him, and imagine what he would say. And the sound of his voice will never leave my ears. I'm also grateful for our music collaborations and will continue to be inspired by him. On one of my last visits to him he was struggling with accepting his new lot in life: that he needed 24 hr home care to stay at home. He was of course hoping he could return to being independent at home. I tried to help him to focus on how lucky he was that he could afford to stay at home and have caretakers who were very good and loved him. And then I sang him 3 lines of Hand In Hand: "We will touch the stars up in heaven together, All summer long, And in winter weather". He had made sure to explain to me when we worked on the song that the lyrics referred to the seasons of life. When I sang him those lines, he looked up at me and said: "You're divine!" I was shocked, I said: "What did you say?" He repeated "You're divine" with a big smile. I had actually managed to calm him down. And said: "I'll take that Bobby". Knowing Bobby was not a religious man. It was one of the best compliments he ever paid me. Though we often both joked about our views and understanding of the existence of God.
Photo by Kris Mikkelson
My sweet friend and I at Fantasy Studios, 2011.
And at his home, 2012:
Photo by Kris Mikkelson
I have more wonderful memories of Bobby, with Bobby, to cherish than there is room to do so. And if you have read this far, thank you. This is a long blog for good reason, Bobby was a really sweet man. I only want to add 2 things: I am happy for Bobby as I truly believe he is more comfortable in the spirit world than he was the final months of his life on earth. And the other:
Rest In Peace Bobby, you are so loved, Clara