As you know, almost all of the songs we write tell stories. We want to share those stories with you. Just as we did for our first two records (see the stories behind the songs on our first CD 13 and the songs on our second CD Again), we’ll post the story behind each song on our new CD now more than ever here for you to read. The plan is to feature one song each week for the next few weeks.
Here is the story behind The Last Hurrah as related by Clark Hansbarger.
The song “The Last Hurrah”
I first set eyes on my wife Ginger when I was 51. Eight years later she married me. The day we met, we began chattering and laughing and adventuring, and we haven’t stopped yet. I’m pretty sure that that first day I found the right partner for this last part of my life.
How long will I last before I shuffle off this mortal coil, anyway? I have no idea, of course. I’m hoping for a few decades, but even if it’s just a few months more, I’d still feel damn lucky to have found Ginger (especially since even before I met her, I’d already lived a very fortunate, blessed life).
That’s what this song is about. Getting old, being in love, and looking back at a wonderful, challenging life.
I wrote The Last Hurrah the week we got married—an event attended only by five kids, four dogs, and one old friend, retired judge Dev Morrison, who married us in a grove of pines behind our house on a snowing morning in November. After we ate a celebratory breakfast, I asked if our witnesses wanted to hear a new love song I’d just finished. Because our kids are polite young adults, they said yes, and I sang The Last Hurrah in public for the first time.
I brought it to the band soon thereafter, and we played it live for a year before we finally recorded it, letting it age some and evolve into the version you can hear now on our latest CD now more than ever.
The Last Hurrah is a love song, for sure, but also a recognition of my limitations and the limits of this glorious life. Like all of us do, I’ve fought my own demons since I was young. Fortunately, aging has pushed those rascals further and further into the background until now they don’t trip me up as as often as they once did. These days they sit way off to the side, still there thumbing their noses at me, but more of an occasional nuisance than any real intrusion on my daily life.
The cool, wonderful thing is that Ginger came along just about the time that all of my struggles, anxieties, worries and sorrows that felt so important before began to recede, replaced by peace.
Maybe that’s why this late-in-life love is so fun. We can relax and enjoy it more easily. Love becomes just another gem in a time filled with gems. Icing on a cake I can finally see has always been delicious.
Musically, The Last Hurrah is a favorite song of mine because of its dynamics. It opens simply, with the first words and two acoustic guitars. Allen’s resonator lead weaves in and out of my chords and vocals in an absolutely stunning dance. And then, when the other guys join it, the lift and change is delightful. Though I couldn’t imagine how the song would eventually sound with the band when I wrote it, it now seems to be exactly what I was looking for—much like the way my life has gone since finding Ginger.
The Last Hurrah performed in our previous incarnation with Mike Jewell on conga at the Bright Box in Winchester, VA.
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