by Kirk Woundy
Next time you think health care professionals are heartless, remember Gary Morse.
During the week, Morse serves as Penrose-St. Francis' VP of human resources. On weekends, he fly-fishes with the best of them. And somewhere around the edges, he records poignant original songs. As described by "Ranger" Rich Tosches, a fine fisherman himself:
If your father ever nudged you awake from a deep dawn sleep with a whisper and a gentle shake to let you know that the fishing rods were packed and the car was waiting, Gary Morse has a few stories for you. He tells them with a guitar and a song and a passion for fishing and a few laughs along the way.
Morse, a singer, musician, fly fisherman and the vice president of human resources at Penrose-St. Francis hospital system, has produced a collection of songs about fishing and family. And about a dad who never met a fish he didn’t like.
The songs of Casting From the Shore are the work of Morse and his Scaled Back Band, which includes his son and daughter. The lyrics and music were written by Morse, 65, in the last few years but were born more than six decades ago when Morse the toddler snagged a goldfish from his grandparents’ backyard pond in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California.
Trips to the lakes and brooks of the Sierras of central California with his brother and his dad soon followed and then more exotic trips to Mexico where the fish pulled hard. The family came to Colorado Springs in 1986. Richard Morse, a musician and firefighter and father, died in 2001. He lives now in the songs.
From the title song:
By the time he packed away his pole and found that final fishin’ hole
Disease had taken nearly every memory that he bore.
But I’m certain that somewhere deep inside he was reelin’ on the day he died
And finally got that big one, up there castin’ from the shore.
The love of the outdoors and fishing goes back even further in the Morse family. Gary’s grandfather, Virgil Morse, died at the age of 104. When he was 96 and in failing health his sister took him to a California stream and sat him down in a chair alongside the racing water.
“She told me years later how he just sat there. His hands wouldn’t work and he couldn’t do it anymore. He couldn’t cast a line anymore,” Gary Morse said. “And so my grandfather sat there in that chair along the river and he cried.”
The CD is available at scaledback.com.