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Bob McElroy

It’s been 10 years since the day I met and recorded Bob McElroy.

Who the Hell is Bob McElroy?

Bob McElroy was a musician I met while living in at the Santa Fe International Youth Hostel in 1999. He was in town from Monroe, Louisiana to meet with Gary Johnson, then-governor of New Mexico, on the topic of marijuana decriminalization legislation. To this meeting he dressed in an all-white suit with a bolo tie, which at 78 years old, scruffy beard and head of white hair, made him look too much like Colonel Sanders for comfort. Later that night, I found him in the common room singing folk songs to an audience of touring Japanese girls. I asked if I could record him and he was happy to oblige. I immediately ran to Radio Shack, purchased a cheap boundary microphone that I could connect to my MiniDisc recorder, grabbed a six pack of Lone Star talls at the pharmacy, ran back to the hostel and sat Bob down outside the hostel kitchen where he played and I recorded until quiet hour.

bob-mcelroy

Not everything he said was the truth, but enough was.

Bob was an extremely interesting person. A former member of a biker gang and psychedelic enthusiast. With his skepticism of organized religious ideals and anti-establishment attitude he’s exactly the type of person you’d expect to meet while living my life. As he puts it while talking about being “locked up for crazy,” “[Mad houses are] all about separating out people who are constitutionally opposed to following the rules other people have set down.” Or when I ask him to play the song where “the bad guy gets away at the end” he retorts, “the cop’s the bad guy.” He had a special way of looking at things that resonated with me. I didn’t want to be him, or even spend a lot of time with him. That evening, extended for ten years by recording technology, was all I needed. Bob died in 2002.

It’s my pleasure to share the entire evening’s recordings with you.

4 Comments

  1. Connie wrote:

    You have such a way with words, I think possibly even better than your Dad or at least on par. Enjoyed hearing about Bob.

    Monday, May 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Permalink
  2. Russell wrote:

    I knew Bob when I lived in Monroe, Louisiana. He was sui generis, to say the least.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink
  3. Terry Tugwell wrote:

    Bob was a good friend and was a living definition of the word troubadour. He was definitely eccentric but was also a very kind man and was both a member of MENSA as well as the Discordian Society. At a moments notice he could play any one of thousands of songs from memory on either piano or guitar.

    Monday, September 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  4. Toby Traylor wrote:

    Thank you for making this available. I think Bob was a fascinating person. I used to listen to him here in Monroe, La. In fact, I went to see him one night and noticed something odd about his appearance. In protest of local government he had shaved half his hair, mustache and beard…
    Again, thanks! It’s good to hear him again.

    Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

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