Circle 'Round the Sun


Tom Morales (April 30, 1953 - January 21, 2012)

I met Tom the first time I attended the South Bay Open Mic in January of 2007. When we heard each other play we knew right away that there was common ground, and that we should be playing music together. I remember jamming on some Miles tunes at the Spring SBF picnic. We weren’t great immediately but we had fun and acknowledged that each had something to teach the other.

We played together off and on for a few years, and then we joined Mike Simpson as Sad But True. We put together a good repertoire of vocal and instrumental standards form the Great American Songbook.

Although Tom and I were not instantly great together, we always enjoyed each other and we were persistent. In the last two years of playing together, we were good. When Tom’s health was failing in the last six months, he still saved up his energy so that we could practice on Wednesday nights, and he brought energy and cheer to all our music together. The very last time we played together, scarcely a month before he died, we talked and played some music. We played “Body and Soul” for the first time together, and we swung our asses off. It was one of the best nights of music of my life.

The whole time that we were friends Tom knew that he was sick. When he took a turn for the worst in late ‘10 / early ‘11 he decided to put together a show of his favorite Beatles tunes. Along with his son Michael, all of his friends from South Bay Folks, and Mike and I from Sad But True, he put together a two hour show of Beatles music at Mission City Coffee. A wonderful time was had by all. I was honored to sing the only two Beatles songs that my vocal range can cover, Revolution, and A Little Help From My Friends. All in all the concert and Tom's entusiasm were a lesson in how to live this life.

Also in early 2011 Tom arranged for us to go up to Yoshi’s to see Chick Corea, one of his favorites. Tom picked me up after work and drove. We chatted and one thing led to another and we ended up talking about religion. He asked me whether I believed in God and when I said no he wanted to hear more. We talked about Monism, materialism, science, the feeling of being alive and a wide range of stuff. It was one of those very rare moments when you get to see life through another person’s eyes and also to feel truly understood by another human. I felt good for days afterward.

As his health worsened in the last few months, Tom kept playing with many friends, Beatles tunes, old 60’s tunes, folkie things, and jazz standards from the Real Book with me. We kept getting better right up to the end!

A few days before he left this Earth I went to visit him at home and I took my guitar. I played him a tune I was working on, “Here’s That Rainy Day,” and I accompanied as Mike sang “Moon River.” That was the last we saw him.

I always liked and appreciated Tom, but now that he’s gone I realize I probably didn’t appreciate him enough. Playing together directed my style and repertoire, he allowed me to do things I couldn’t do with anyone else. Now that he’s gone, I need to redirect my music, and I really miss him.

I am honored that I could call Tom my friend while he was alive and I miss him now that he’s gone.

Tom's YouTube Channel

This is the last time we played together at South Bay Folk. Still goin' strong!




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Last updated: July 8, 2012