music10
Image: the Coles.

Fred and Toody hold Morgan, their first grandchild.

TWO DAYS LATER, they hopped back in the tour van, headed not for a show, but for a vacation, a rambling 20-day excursion that will take them to the Oregon Vortex in Southern Oregon, Florence, Arizona, Vegas, and a bunch of Indian casinos along the way—all of it an effort to relax in preparation for the glut of touring that will accompany the new record. It’s the same routine they’ve been following for 31 years.

In fact, the only thing different now is that they’re entitled to have a nurse and an oxygen tank on hand when playing a gig in a place like the Netherlands. You know, because they’re old.

It’s a subtle reminder of their advancing years that makes Toody giggle—and pisses Fred off to no end. It’s why he and Toody ran the Portland marathon last year, smoking cigarettes at both the start and finish lines: spite. “You think I’m gonna have anything left in this body?” he asks. “I’m using every ounce of everything I’ve got, and I’m not gonna make anybody else suffer with these parts. They’re mine. I’m very selfish … with my guitar. My amp. And I’m more selfish than anything else on the planet about Toody. I ain’t sharing her with anybody.”

And so, on a battered wicker love seat on a back porch in an overgrown yard somewhere near Clackamas, this love song continues. A grandson circles the two of them, belching out the punch line to a joke, as Gram and Cappy, a pair of aging rock stars, settle further into their late-afternoon drunk. Their knees rub against each other flirtatiously, denim on denim. Birds sing. The butts pile up and the Yukon dwindles. “I love you, sweetie,” Fred says, placing a kiss on Toody’s forehead. She meets his eyes, lightly slugs him in the arm, and smiles: “I love you too, asshole.”