Alone and Blue/Hector Brown

        Tim O’Brien used to do a song in his ‘Hot Rize’ days called ‘Hector Brown.’  It is the bluegrass statement on ‘lives of quiet desperation.’  The chorus goes, “if you don’t think an old man can be alone and blue…let me tell you my friend, he’s just like you.”

          Believe it or not here in Harvey County we still make a  few house calls.  There are a lot of little old folks who live just like Hector Brown in the song.  

        There was one old fellow I used to see who loved for me to bring my mandolin.  If you are one of those hard-hearted insurance kinda  guys don’t worry; I didn’t send in a bill.  In fact, at times I’d thumb through the code book and say, “Hey Bill; what kinda ICD-9 code you reckon the government would take for mandolin picking and watching ‘Bonanza’ re-runs?”

         He was confined to bed from a stroke and could barely talk, but he’d always laugh his a^^ off.  Bill was a Hector Brown kind of guy, but he endured it all with dignity.  I like to believe I helped some.

        When I age out of the Doctor gig that’s how I am gonna spend my time.  I’ll go out to the house of folks like Bill, take a plate of chicken and my mandolin, and see if I can make their day better.  By professional mandolin standards I am an average player at best, but so far no one has complained. 

        I’ll get back to my tour schedule next week.  I’m tired and need to recharge.  I wanted y’all to think about the folks confined to home.  When you get down to the bottom line, I think that is why I play mandolin more than anything else.  I’m gonna play some this weekend.  Who knows, maybe it’ll be a bright spot for some soul like Hector Brown.

Dr. B

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9 Comments on “Alone and Blue/Hector Brown”

  1. mandogrin Says:

    There is usually a Hector or two in every audience…. and sometimes there’s a little Hector in those of us on stage …We all need the warmth of a good message in song.

    Keep bringing that mandolin, a plate of chicken, and a whole lot of sunshine, Doc. Thats some pretty good medicine.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Amen brother Mandogrin,

      Whenever we play, we never know who we might touch, or how it might impact us too.

      See ‘ya out on the bluegrass road.

      Dr. B

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Editor’s note: (ie me) My FaceBook pal Otis noted the true title of this Pete Wernick number is “Just Like You.”

    I told my wife a long time ago, “I know a lot of bluegrass, but Otis has me beat by a long shot.” He does indeed; the guy is a bluegrass encylopedia.

    Dr. B

  3. Being confined to home is rough. My grandparents and my father all went through periods like that when they were in bad shape. Better at home than in the hospital, though, usually… I know that every little visit and gesture brightens someone’s day when they’re in that kind of situation, and you’re a saint Dr. B for wanting to spend your time like that once you retire out of the Doc gig.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I guess it ain’t all altruistic. When I wind up in the Nursing Home I hope somebody will visit me too.

      At that point I’m gonna give free mandolin lesons and buy a meal for anyone you wants to swap stories. I figure I’ll send out for the food, ’cause it isn’t always the best there.

      Dr. B

  4. Danny Fulks Says:

    Wayne Benson told me personally at Summersville this week, you are a quick learner on the mandolin. As you know Kristin is to me a Renaissance Woman. Me and three grandchildren, one daughter, enjoyed a wonderful day in the sun on a WV mountain as the music drifted out over the valley, and peace, for those few minutes, came to all who were there.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Truly is think it is more than Wayne is a very good teacher. He has a very analytical approach to the fretboard that appeals to my doctor brain. At the same time the cat plays with soul too. A very fun guy to hang out with. I always learn a bunch from him.

      Kristin is isn’t she? My daughter is feminine yet tough and professional. Kristin is like that too. A modern woman 100%.

      Soak in all in brother, the music is good for us all.

      Dr. B

  5. Dr B
    Music is the elixir of the soul. Your mandolin might not cure the disease but it will ease the symptoms. The mandolin doctor – I can see a film with this title.

    • drtombibey Says:


      When I’d go visit Bill, I’m not sure who got cured more, me or him. I do know you couldn’t see him and then go home and feel sorry for yourself.

      Dr. B

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