This month, in 1994, I was driving two friends down Carlisle Blvd. in Albuquerque, NM around midnight. We were on our way to the Frontier Restaurant on Central Ave. to get breakfast burritos and cinnamon roles and generally minding our own business when some yahoo hit the intersection at Carlisle and Coal, against the red, at 50 odd miles an hour. I was driving an ’86 Jeep Wrangler, soft top, no doors, unbuckled seat belts hanging limp at our sides. I don’t even remember being ejected. My only real memory is being beneath the Jeep as it rolled over me and into a telephone pole. My leg broke in two places.
On January 16th, 1953 Bill Monroe and Bessie Lee Mauldin were driving toward Nashville on Highway 31 at around 3 AM when an oncoming car veered into their lane. Monroe’s biographer, Richard Smith, writes that Bill bounced off of the steering wheel and in the process broke nineteen bones in his skull, legs, spine and pelvis and popped one of his eyes out of it’s socket.
We both walked away from our accidents, literally. The only slight difference, if we’re quibbling, is Bill had a dangling eye and broke seventeen more bones than me. Oh, and he also pulled Bessie Lee out of the car and carried her to the side of the road.
I know what you’re thinking, the similarities are uncanny. It’s like two parallel lives separated by 41 years. The shiver you’re feeling? Just a goose walking over your grave, nothing more. Forget it.
One other small point of divergence was Monroe legendarily refused all pain medication. I might not have done that.
In an attempt to modernize his sound in 1951 Decca Records under Paul Cohen had Bill Monroe plug-in. Or, rather, had Grady Martin plug-in. Here they are covering Andrew Jenkins’ classic train song Ben Dewberry’s Final Run.
Ben Dewberry’s Final Run, Bill Monroe
See, it’s about an accident and has Grady Martin playing guitar. I know, it all fits. Weird.