“I Met An Angel” – A tribute to Gordon and his life on the street.
John Bell - for recording and engineering
Tommy Kuzsel - for his haunting harmonica playing
To both of you – for helping me to honor Gordon.
Lyrics, Piano, Vocals Alvin Epp
Harmonica Tommy Kuzsel
Producer, Guitar, Bass, Strings John Bell
“I Met An Angel” – The Story behind the Song
This is a story about a street guy named Gordon. Well actually, it’s about more than just Gordon. It’s a story about a divine appointment in which Gordon showed up in my life and what inspired and transpired next. This is a story about life, the people we meet, and how our interactions become experiences that create stories to tell.
On a warm Friday night in July of 2006, my friend, Dr. James and I were having dinner at the Spaghetti Factory in Gastown. We were seated outside along the railing that separates the restaurant from the sidewalk. People wandered past constantly and every so often one of the local street folks would stop and ask for spare change.
James and I were enjoying our meal and catching up on life, when a middle aged bearded fellow came up from behind me and asked if we could spare some change for a song he would play on his harmonica. At first, I wasn’t too keen on the idea; I wasn’t into the distraction that our street musician was offering. James, bless his soul, said “sure, play us a song”.
For the next minute or so, we sat there listening to this very cool sound played by our new acquaintance. We were impressed and gave him some change. When he finished he asked where we were from. Then he made this interesting comment. He said “I just want to go home “.
So I asked him “Where is home”. I thought he was going to mention some city in some remote part of Canada. He replied “I just want to leave this planet”.
Now he had my attention. I commented“ it sounds like you are talking to God”. He said “God wouldn’t talk to me”. “
Why not?” I asked. He shrugged his shoulders “my language is not very nice and God wouldn’t approve”. I replied “the way you are talking about going home, sounds to me like you are conversing with God anyway”. He smiled and said “I should get going” He started to walk away and I asked him to come back and chat. I was now curious about who he was and how he got here. We discovered that he was from somewhere in Europe and came to Canada and settled in Vancouver and ended up wandering the streets.
We talked about life and how he saw life on the streets of our city and how challenging it could be. About five minutes went by and finally he said he should move on. He figured the restaurant wouldn’t want him bugging their patrons for too long. We said our goodbyes and wished him well. He began to walk away, when, suddenly he turned around and came back and said something so simple, yet so profound. Something that seared my soul.
He said “thanks for taking the time to talk to me, because no one ever does here on the street”.
And then he left, back to wandering the street through Gastown and beyond, looking for his next spare change.
It was at that moment when I said to James that I couldn’t reconcile what life is supposed to represent. On one hand, here was this guy wandering the streets, often feeling alone, with not much more than a harmonica to hang onto.
Meanwhile I was dealing with this couple who were having a hissy fit because their renovation project had been delayed a few weeks. The railing guy had made a mistake when he measured the deck railing and it was going to take an extra week to fix. They had this beautiful home, more furniture than you can imagine, three BMW’s in the driveway, a cabin on an island and a boat to get there.
Something just didn’t connect anymore.
The rest of the evening was a swirling of thoughts…who was this guy, Gordon and what was behind this chance meeting? By the time I got home, my mind and spirit were racing with thoughts about how we see others on the street.
A few days later, I was sitting at the piano, playing a melody that up until then, I hadn’t known what to do with. It was like I couldn’t write the words fast enough to capture what I had experienced with my friend James and Gordon the musician, this street guy, who haunted my spirit with his words about life on the street.
The song “I saw an Angel” is a story of life and how those we meet cause us to step out of our comfort zone. The first verse confronts our soul, the second verse turns the table and contemplates life through someone else’s eyes, and the third, reminds us that we all share life and where we truly originate from. The chorus speaks of who we meet, what they represent, and how we recognize love.
I ran into Gordon again on the street five years after we first met. I told him that I wrote a song about him and pulled out from my wallet, a well-folded piece of paper with the words to the song. He couldn’t get over the fact that someone had written a song about him.
We parted company and several months later, I once more was looking for Gordon because I wanted him to play his harmonica on the recording of the song. I never did find him and heard recently that he passed away……..
Looks like maybe, he got his wish - Enjoy the song Gordon.