Celebrate The Music Of Marques Bovre With New Friends And Old

Marques Bovre

I wrote this article for Isthmus 13 years ago about my friend Marques Bovre. It was tough to be objective and neutral in the journalistic sense. I am a fan. I always have been.

As the article indicates, I first heard Marques’ music on the radio more than twenty years ago. I called up Pat Gallagher at 92.1 WMAD, the precursor to Triple M, and asked what that song was he just played. It was “Virgin Shades,” by Marques and his band, the Evil Twins. I was hooked.

I had a friend who was a roommate of Marques’ and, during the big blizzard of 1990, I cross-country skied to a small get-together where I met Marques face-to-face. Shortly thereafter I bought his album, Medicine, on vinyl, which I still have, and had it signed by Marques and the band.

I’ve always been a lyrics guy, and Marques is a gifted wordsmith. On that Medicine album, he has a cowboy love song, “Lavender Moon,” that is a real gem:

“Freezing to death in the flames of this mid-April sunset, I’m dying to bring you the obvious. You can ride into what sunset you will, still this tumbleweed tumbles for you.”

I’m not bashful about my love for Marques’ music. There was a time I put that love on the line and spent a small fortune to pay for the band’s 1994 release, Ghost Stories From Lonesome County. I’m listed in the album notes as “Executive Producer,” which means I paid the bills, nothing more. It was a shot at the big time, and we were dreaming big. It didn’t work out, but there are no regrets here.

One of the songs on that album is called “Dirty Larry,” a true story about Marques’ high-school hell-raising buddy who later died of an overdose. It’s a funeral scene and there’s this stanza that stands out as acutely observant:

“I saw his kindergarten teacher, Cousin Ed and Mrs. Beecher, and some creatures that I will not mention here.

And they all talked about the shame, but no one mentioned much about surprise.

I tried to comfort his old mother, small talk with his little brother, but we just stared at one another, feelin’ queer.

I sat an hour with his widow, catching daggers from her ebony eyes.”

Another favorite of mine is “Waitress’ Life,” from Marques’ second solo record, Faith Is A Muscle, which came out in 1998, the same time I wrote the piece for Isthmus. Written in first-person, it tells the story of a single-mom working a dead-end job as a waitress in a truck-stop diner in Alaska. There are a couple of lines that stick out as descriptive as anything Bob Dylan, Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen ever wrote:

“My mother and father live down in Nebraska,

That’s ten thousand tables from here.

They sometime send money and ask how Alaska

Is treating their sweet Guinevere.”

And later, in the same song:

“It’s 2:30am and I’m walking on razors

Even the midnight sunshine has gone home.

All these fifty cent tippers

Think they’re doing me favors.

I’m sure Hell’s made out of coffee and chrome”

This isn’t just a matter of taste. These lines are brilliant, flat-out brilliant. It may be foolish for me to say so, but I think Marques is the finest singer-songwriter to ever come out of Madison and one of the finest songwriters in America, period. He’s given us many gifts over the years. Now is a chance for us to give back.

I’ve cried over the years listening to Marques’ music, awed by the beauty of it all. And I’ve cried since learning of the brain tumor he’s now battling. But I don’t get stuck there. “Sometimes laughter is the only kind of medicine,” to quote Marques himself.

Come share in that Medicine this Sunday, 5:00 pm at High Noon, as we pay tribute to the music of Marques Bovre with a gathering of some of Madison’s finest musicians, joined by the man himself.

Click here to learn more, and make a donation to assist Marques and his family during this difficult time.

—Tag Evers

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Related Content:  Just Announced Madison Concert: Medicine, A Tribute to The Music Of Marques Bovre, 12.11.11

4 Responses

  1. Beautiful, Tag. You captured the beauty of Marques’s music — and the beauty of being a fan of that music. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Mary. We had a great turnout — over 600 folks came through the door. Sadly, many were turned away. We raised a ton of money for Marques & Terese. If anyone would like to make a contribution, they can do so by making out a check to: Friends of Marques Bovre and drop it off at any Heartland Credit Union…or mail it to Heartland Credit Union, 555 W. Washington Avenue, MSN, WI 53703.

  3. I heard the Double Evil Single on tape from a roommate when I first moved to Madison in 1993. I loved those for songs so much. Backhanded Love song, Dawn of the Dead In Dolby, Sam’s Song, and Dylan’s cover of God on Our Side. I saw every gig that I could when I turned 21. I bought one of their hats and the Flyover Land CD when I saw them play one of my favorite songs today, Flyover Land. I love that song and that CD. My friends call “Don’t Be Afraid” the:”monster Song” because I used to play it so much. I even got to talk to him when I was sober when I worked at the Harmony and he was playing that night. If anyone still has Medicine on CD I would make a 50 dollars contribution for him if I could get a copy. My email xtynct@gmail.com. I leave you with a quote. “It might be paranoia, and it might be common sense. I lost that fine distinction when I lost my innocence.”

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