Oswald = Oregon
In my opinion my old band Oswald Five-O really embodied the heart of Oregon. Raised under the pine trees and along the coastline of Astoria, Robert Christie was steeped in the rhythm of Oregon's natural world. His father ran a tree farm. His older brothers and sisters sang Johnny Cash to Robert, and he cut his teenage teeth on old country and punk rock. Moving to Eugene in 1984 to attend the U of O, Robert started playing music. Eventually, he joined with the greatest guitar player in the world, Nick Tucker, and the luckiest girl in the world, me, and we formed the 3-piece rock band, Oswald Five-O.
We all wrote songs, and Nick and I sang them, but it was Robert who wrote the songs that mattered. To me, his songs were as great as any I'd ever heard. Other northwest bands of the time had similar heart, grit and brotherhood, not to mention that huge, rough guitar and livid drum sounds, bands such as Crackerbash, Snakepit, Dead Moon and the Wipers, and to me, Oswald belonged to those ranks, because of the simple brilliance of Robert's lyrics combined with the huge sound of Nick Tucker's guitar and supersonic hooks.
Robert was always beating on the backs of chairs or tables with his fingers, a constant roll of drumming, his eyes looking over your head, his ears politely catching every couple of words you said. I miss that now, the gentle, muted sound of his fingers drumming, drumming.
We lost Robert, and his beautiful family. Right after the accident, while still swimming in the shock of our grief, our friends started to congregate in Eugene. People we hadn't seen in years arrived to share stories and each others comforting presence. Our dear friend Gayle wrote an amazing piece in the "Oregon Quarterly" about that time, about how we all have a commonality in grieving, even while each person's experience is at the same time unique. It was a beautiful piece, and since then Gayle has become rather famous for her young adult novels. The most recent issue of "Oregon Quarterly" ran a profile on her piece from 2001, and the photos of Oswald Five-O are welcome sights in its glossy pages. I remember!!