Those shows at Green Street Grill: for $10 you'd get a plate of amazing food and a concert. Lou Barlow and Elliot Smith. I think that's when I started to get to know Billy, though it seems like I always knew him. I didn't know the magic I was a part of. I still can't believe I got to see that show. One day I'll dig out the photos.

He made you feel like the most important person in the world. He'd one-arm hug you, grab your head and give you a kiss even when you twisted your face away. I learned to block his drink hand so I didn't get soaked, but deflecting the kisses was nearly futile. I'd meet people's astonished expressions when they witnessed this display, or his signature jump/kick/drop move, with, "Oh. That's Billy Ruane. He's part of why I produce shows and he's why the music scene in Boston is so good." One person can change things.

He was tireless.

And he was bi-polar and I have a schizophrenic mother, so I tried to keep my distance at times. Phone calls were long and hard and god forbid you try to get a word in edgewise. So much energy. So much energy now released into the universe. We're all going to be stronger for it.

He tried to give me a car, multiple times. I actually really wanted/needed one at one point. But I couldn't do it. He always looked askance at me when I refused anything. It was an insult. He couldn't understand. He saved Jaguars from death. His mechanic is going to be devastated too.

Mourning for Billy
      at the Middle East, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010

he always seemed more naked
than us his earnest follies
and untrammeled joys
pink fingers the nails bitten down
the cream suit somehow half off
as if he'd hopped a thirty-year freight ride
from prep school
arriving unsteady canny
embracing engaging
death undoes
there in the hard world of night
we pass through to be heard
death undoes us now

in music beauty travels without light
late night ballads heart-drenched
and scat accusations loud
as garbage scows
a young man puts down his guitar case
and sobs in the arms of a friend
we speak to anyone who cares to
something missing now
like after a break-in
or our table repossessed
who had been here
when no one is here now

din of a dark holiday
nods to semi-strangers
and old faces
the once bartender with black bangs
her eyes darting like caged birds
our dreams a little sharper now
our hopes disheveled
in his honor
we grieve like the Irish
pint in hand
give us this extra hour
give us this window on the night
to gather by

JOHNNY ANGEL | THRILLS, BLACKJACKS, KTLK-AM: It's amazing how much Billy was like a character from a Terry Southern story, an inside outsider or vice versa, ridiculously colorful and completely impossible. I have to admit, when asked for a spicy recollection of Bill that is anything close to specific, I don't have any--he was more like a tornado than a human being, you can describe a windstorm like that vividly, but the particulars? There was too much energy to absorb in too short a space of time.

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