Introduction.  Luke Adams and Jimmy Gauntt were close friends since they began tumbling around in diapers in 1984.  They even looked alike with their reddish hair, quick-to-burn fair skin, freckles and lanky athletic builds  Scotland’s Andy Murray and these boys could be mistaken for cousins.  Luke, a year older, was always slightly taller than Jimmy.  Both were talented musicians, athletic and wicked smart, and although they didn’t go to the same schools and hang out with the same crews, they had a special bond forged by knowing each other forever and their keen, inquisitive minds and wit.  Luke was devastated by Jimmy’s death and it’s been hard for him to get his mind around it or talk about it.

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It’s hard for everybody.  So, when Luke reached out and shared this story and his feelings about his good pal with us it was a bit of a surprise—a very welcome surprise.  That he was moved to take the time and the energy to do this on the eve of taking the New York Bar exam made it all that more powerful.  This by itself was beautiful and wonderful and filled our eyes with tears and our hearts with some ache and much love.

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Luke & Maiko Adams 2012Lucas, Maiko and Casey on September 7, 2012

Hilary immediately sent Luke’s email to our son-in-law, Ryan, thinking he would know of the song Luke and Jimmy were critiquing.  Ryan was the very first person to see Luke’s email exchange with Jimmy besides us.  And that’s when the story took off into the place that, once again, left us speechless.  The emails tell the story and here they are, transcribed from the originals—no edits (except for deleting some email adresses)—no amplification required.

One additional note: In Ryan’s first email he refers to my sister Laura and her stirring of the ‘family spirit pot’ when she talks about her children Leo and Claire.  The Friday night before Luke’s email arrived, Brittany and Ryan hosted a dinner for Laura, her husband Anton and their 20 year old son Leo who had arrived a few days earlier from Switzerland.  Hilary and I, Anton’s oldest daughter, Antonia, and her husband Yousef, rounded out the guest list.  Our two year-old grandson, Wyatt, was entertaining himself watching the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics on television.  Ryan quickly changed the channel.  Four years ago, also the opening eve of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Brittany (Ryan was in Alaska fishing), Hilary and I had dinner at Fidel’s, a popular  Mexican restaurant in Solana Beach, with Laura, Anton, Leo and their daughter, Claire, who had arrived earlier that day from Switzerland.  Jimmy got stuck in traffic coming down from L.A., and when we got home from dinner he was sprawled out on the couch watching the opening ceremonies.  Laura and her family were the first ones at our door the next morning after the Medical Examiner and Sheriff came to our house to let us know what had happened to Jimmy out on Del Dios Highway.  Our ground zero.


Impossible Germany
By: Lucas Adams, Ryan Kirby and Jimmy Gauntt


From: Lucas Adams
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2012 6:40 AM
To: Casey Gauntt
Subject: Fwd: trips?

Dear Casey,

I am quite deep into studying for the NY bar (which is on Tuesday-Wednesday), but woke up this morning with a song in my head: “Impossible Germany” by Wilco. I remembered I had found a fantastic live performance recently filmed when they played a set on Late Night with David Letterman. The train of thought led me to thinking about Jimmy, since we saw Wilco together and talked about them fairly often, and when I saw this performance I wished I could have shared it with him. I remembered having a specific email exchange about this exact song with him (included below), and then I thought you might like to hear the song too.

LINK TO VIDEO: http://youtu.be/9gjFfdGYi9c (David Letterman, September 21, 2011)

The part Jimmy specifically references (“when those two guitars come together!”) is particularly spectacular in this performance.

Anyway, I thought you’d always appreciate knowing Jimmy is often in our thoughts and always in our hearts.

Luke

____________________________________________

From: Lucas Adams
[NOTE: On 5/21/07, Lucas Adams, living and working in Tokyo, wrote Jimmy Gauntt in Los Angeles]:

Jim–Okay. Well, we can hang out in San Diego then.  Maybe you’d like to go down to Mexico?  Fall is perhaps the nicest time to come to Japan anyway; nice weather and beautiful fall foliage.

By the way, I imagine you have that new Wilco album by now.  What do you think?  I’m a big fan of that song “Impossible Germany” but I don’t know about the rest of it.  “Shake it off” fills the same roll for me as “I’m a wheel” did on the last album; the song I can’t f_____g stand, though “I’m A Wheel” mainly bothered me for its obnoxiously stupid lyrics, less the general terribleness of “Shake It Off”.

_________________________________________________________

From: James Gauntt
Date: Mon, May 21, 2007 at 3:02 PM
Subject: Re: trips?
To: Lucas Adams >

Beautiful!

“Impossible Germany” is by far my favorite song of the album. I like to think that I like the whole album, but as of now I merely listen to that one track as if it were a single. I like to think that song’s about tweedy, on a world tour, trying to find possible reunion opportunities with his wife. And when those two guitars come together!!! But the rest of the album is lackluster, I’m reluctant to say. They’re like a cheeseburger at a gourmet restaurant sometimes. Yeah, it’s got some unique flourishes, some complicated mixing, some
tweaky solos, but it’s still a straight ahead pop ballad in four four. Muddling it up don’t make it fine art. But impossible germany… so good.

Japan in fall… I’m in. It’ll work out great. I’m coming to Mexico for sure. I’m drinking the worm.

jim

_________________________________________________________

From: Casey Gauntt
To: Hilary Gauntt
Sent: 7/23/2012 8:38:51 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: FW: trips?

From Luke- nicely engaged—we all are feeling him.

Love you

me

_________________________________________________________

From: Hilary Gauntt
To: Ryan Kirby
Sent: 7/23/2012 8:50 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time

Message from Luke Adams-do you know this music?

_________________________________________________________

From: Ryan Kirby
To: Hilary Gauntt
Sent: 7/23/2012 10:52:40 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Re: message from Luke Adams -do you know this music?

This is most strange.  There is a story here.  Give me a day or so to work on it.  As to the email Jimmy wrote, my gawd, hearing him in his own words in emails like this, it’s not like he is RIGHT here, he IS RIGHT here.  I guess that is what is most beautiful about the written word, there is immortality in it.  But it makes the loss hurt ever so hard too, because there he is, talking, living, alive.  He was just so gd brilliant too, that boy.  Auntie Laura sure has a subliminal oblivious way of making me think about Jimmy and all sorts of things when she talks about Leo and Claire.  Is it the same for you?  Her presence in San Diego stirs the family spirits, it is quite something, hard to say… Anyhow, I honestly have a story to go along with this email, hopefully I can share it properly, as it had a lot of meaning, to me.  What a great tune. xoxo, R

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Jimmy (R) with fishing guide in Alaska - 2006

Jimmy (R) with fishing guide in Alaska – 2006

____________________________________________________

From: Ryan Kirby
To: Hilary Gauntt
Sent: 7/23/2012 6:30:33 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Re: message from Luke Adams -do you know this music?

OK, here’s the story, it’s not terribly profound, but it’s nonetheless most bizarre that he (Luke) sent this email and referenced this song.  Most strange is Jimmy’s excitement for the song, which I never knew.  Here’s why it’s strange to me…

Sometime right around Christmas 2008, I thumbed through a bunch of old Jimmy CD’s – There was one labeled Wilco.  I had heard of Wilco but never really gotten into them.  I went through about a dozen other CD’s, skipping thru them rather quickly, and it finally came upon time to play the Wilco CD.  I was surprised that I enjoyed it, but particularly one song… the one Luke mentioned.  It’s a song I’ve never known the name of because it was on this burned CD.  As of today, I now know it’s called: Impossible Germany.

Now, what makes it stranger to me is that I recall listening to this song for roughly a week straight, not because I loved it so much (which I did, and still do), but because it would get me singing in the car.  Now when I say singing, I mean making up my own lyrics in the instrumental section, which is about 4 minutes in length in this song (and apparently the part Jimmy loved).  — Side note: this was also around the time I was heavy into Tennyson. —

Anyhow, I recall singing all these wild and meaningful lyrics along to the song about Jimmy, about how I felt, how I missed him, etc.  The most ridiculous aspect of this tale is that I actually recorded one such extemporaneous singing session in my car (I’m sure I deleted a few too).  This original recording survives today and is confirmed by the digital file which shows the date was January 27th, 2009.

Absurd as this story is, I remember recording myself singing to the song because one time, of course before I ever thought to record my impromptu singing, I actually sang the entire 4 minute instrumental of the song with about 40 lines of the most authentic and real expression I had uttered up to then about how I missed Jimmy and how I felt, etc.  I was in therapy at the time too, and I never even expressed myself so completely as I did in that singing session (it was roughly from Genesee to Del Mar Heights Road around 5:30 pm mid-week and bleak January in my Chrysler 300).  Anyhow, it was one of those times where I was actually shocked at my own candor, lyrics, expression and rhyming scheme – All which came from the clear blue sky and subconsciously.  Next day, still impressed with myself, I of course tried again to recapture the feeling, even hitting the record button on my voice recorded just in case, but I could never recapture that first time, as I was just singing it out.

I don’t think I’ve heard the song since around that time, as I misplaced the CD before I could record it into I-Tunes and figure out what the name of it was.  I’ve also never heard it since.  Until today.

So when I played it this morning, I was shocked that the song Jimmy loved so much, Impossible Germany, was the song I sang to for that entire month of January, 2009.  One of the sadder months I’ve ever known.  Anyway – If you ever want to hear the recording, I’d be happy to play it for you on my voice recorder, my voice is pretty terrible though, and it isn’t that magical version! –

I just listened to it again, so wild.

Here are the lyrics I came up with in the car from that day, again, still not the original, but probably in the ballpark

From (1/27/2009)

(the first verse goes with the song at the 2:31 mark, and so on)
Things have changed
Since that day
Things have changed
since that day…

Got on an airplane
never been so mis-ra-ble
Where did you go?
We had so much to do –

Couldn’t we have had
one last
tiny conversation?
Time spent with you
was a
new realization…

Had I known you’d soon be
destined for the stars
Might have taken things seriously
Or told you to watch for cars

This
Life
Goes by…
How I wish I was with you
That Night
God knows I’d try
and see you home alright

But I never got the chance
to say
goodbye
So now I’m singing
you this
little lullaby
– Cause I miss you

______________________________________________________________________________

“Impossible Germany” © Wilco

Impossible Germany
Unlikely Japan

Wherever you go
Wherever you land
I’ll say what this means to me
I’ll do what I can

Impossible Germany
Unlikely Japan

The fundamental problem
We all need to face
This is important
But I know you’re not listening
Oh, I know you’re not listening

If this was still new to me
I wouldn’t understand

Impossible Germany
Unlikely Japan

But this is what love is for
To be out of place
Gorgeous and alone
Face to face

With no larger problems
That need to be erased
Nothing is more important than to know
Someone is listening
Now I’ll know
You’ll be listening
_________________________________________________

Glenn Kotche, the drummer for Wilco, was born in Roselle, Illinois, next door to my home town of Itasca,  and we both went to Lake Park High School  although a few years apart —I was Class of 1968 and he Class of 1989.He’s probably the most famous person who went to our high school.  I’m not sure how or when I found that out.Jimmy might have told me.  I hope so.Here’s a link to his website: Glenn Kotche’s website

Postscript

Where did you go?
We had so much to do –

Ryan’s words resonate with the very theme of “Write Me Something Beautiful.” They are the oft-agonizing, painful, gut-wrenching words of parents, grandparents, children and friends following a searing loss. Woeful and, yet, hopeful too. Philosophers, scholars, writers and film makers, such as those who brought us the 1997 movie “Contact,” have asked these questions for thousands of years. The theme of “Contact” was most clearly stated near the end of the movie when Jodie Foster, who has been chosen as the sole emissary of the world to embark on a one-shot intergalactic, inter-dimensional, mission to the unknown. After careening through multiple worm holes she finds herself in the most strange and beautiful place imaginable, and poses the age-old questions to a being that, for her peace of mind, has assumed the likeness of her father who passed away 20 years earlier: “Why? Where? What is the meaning of life?”

In this clip of “Contact”: Ellie’s questions (Jodie Foster) are answered by her father figure:

“You’re capable of such beautiful dreams
and such horrible nightmares…

You feel so lost
so cut off
so alone
–- only you’re not.

See…
in all our searching
the only thing we’ve found that makes emptiness bearable
— is each other…”

 

Maybe we don’t need a multi-billionaire like the movie’s mysterious and secretive billionaire industrialist S. R. Hadden (John Hurt) to build a machine from plans that are sent through the radio waves from galaxies far away to access these worm holes—or rabbit holes that I’ve come to call them. Maybe they are all around us and accessible through our thoughts and an affirmative intent to make a deep and meaningful connection—a Contact, if you will.

I tried to run away from Itasca and all of my friends from elementary school and Lake Park High School in next door Roselle after my father took his life in 1970. I ran hard to forget and bury the pain—the fear. And then The Letter from my father showed up 38 years later on the day that would have been our son’s 25th birthday. I think that was my first conscious experience with a rabbit hole- where somebody, or some bodies, jumped in and came through to get me at just the right time.

A few months later I thought about reconnecting with some of the kids—really close friends, the kind you only make in your formative years—from Itasca and Lake Park, and took some hesitant, but nonetheless affirmative, steps to make contact with one old friend in particular, George. Neither of us were prepared for or could have ever imagined what would occur after we reconnected. “What just happened?” we kept asking one another. George said it was like going into the Bermuda Triangle, which I think is his way of describing a rabbit hole. Bottom line- we couldn’t explain it.

It didn’t take much for us to end up in the Triangle—or the rabbit hole.

“Small moves..small moves,” as Jodie’s dad tells her.

As it would turn out, George and I found ourselves tumbling around in the hole a couple of times over the next year following our contact , and these adventures are chronicled in two stories.

For the first one click here if you “Want To Go For A Ride?”


CLICK HERE - If you would like a Specially-Crafted PDF version of this story for saving or printing.

One response to “Impossible Germany”

  1. […] if you desire the "full effect." Those would be: The Letter, McKenzie’s Field-Ole Ole Olsen, and Impossible Germany that is also inexplicably intertwined with Hollywood actor Jodie Foster's work. Thanks, –Casey] […]

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Author Bios

Write Me Something Beautiful Authors - Casey and Jimmy Gauntt

Casey Gauntt

is an attorney and senior executive of a major San Diego real estate company. He lives in Solana Beach, California, with his wife, Hilary. Casey grew up in Itasca, Illinois, graduated Lake Park High School in 1968, and received B.S., JD and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California.

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Jimmy Gauntt

was born and raised in Solana Beach and graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2002.   A prestigious Trustee Scholar at the University of Southern California, he majored in English and Spanish. He authored six plays, five screenplays, and a multitude of poems and short stories. Beginning in 2010, the USC English Department annually bestows the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award—aka “The Jimmy”—to the top graduates in English.  Jimmy passed over to the other side in 2008 at age 24.

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