The Promenade Magazine/South Florida Blog. By Ray Brasted
Michael McCloud is perched on his chair on a stage he built 28 years ago. An old white dog lies peacefully nearby. McCloud slowly lights another in a chain of cigarettes, takes a drag and then carefully inserts it in a fret on his guitar neck.
At 68 he seems older than his years; grizzled and worn, perhaps from looking at life through the uncompromising eyes of a story-teller and songwriter, an occupational hazard.
Perhaps he once inspired to be famous, maybe like Jimmy Buffet or other troubadours who got lucky writing and singing about life. Now he sings his songs and takes requests at the Schooner Wharf Bar located on the docks in Key West.
“All I want to do now is come here and sing my songs and then go back home,” McCloud says. His songs are about living a life where he is not “bothering nobody who isn’t bothering me”.
In a bitter-sweet irony he is being discovered because of the internet and is on UTube and music sites such as RDO. “They are a little bit late for that, don’t you think?” (Pauses) “Like what’s the point,” he told the small crowd at the Conch Republic. He says it with a crooked smile, like it is a not really funny joke on him.
I wanted to tell McCloud that he is not that old, that there is still plenty of time for fame and fortune, and to have a wider audience hear his songs. But the words don’t come. He is a man who is slow in his gait and perhaps resigned to his fate.
I hope that his version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which is haunting and beautiful, might reflect his outlook on life.
Ed. Note: You can find Michael McCloud’s music online by searching his name and Key West.