Paul Metsa Pays Tribute to David Carr With "Drifting Away"

David Carr in 1984

David Carr in 1984

In the late 1980s, before his days at the New York Times, David Carr was a young journalist in Minneapolis struggling with a serious drug addiction. At some point, Carr went so far off the edge that many of this best friends feared it was only a matter of time before he turned up dead.

"He'd really developed a pretty severe crack habit," says Carr's longtime friend Paul Metsa, musician and author of Blue Guitar Highway. "We all used to party, but there was always the room upstairs of the party, and that's where the really heavy doping would go on. And David found himself in those situations with people who were just downright dangerous, and I wouldn't hang out with them in a million years. David started to really drift away from us. "

Metsa wrote a song about Carr around this time, called "Drifting Away," but he never got around to recording it. Before long, Carr entered rehab at Eden House in Minneapolis and finally got sober.

See also:
Before the New York Times, David Carr Learned the Journalism Craft on Minneapolis Streets

About a year ago, Carr stopped by one of Metsa's gigs while visiting Minneapolis. "I said, 'Hey, I wrote you this tune 30 years ago and I never sent it to ya,'" he recalls. "'One of these days I'm gonna get around to sending it to you, when I find the lyrics that I lost."

A couple of weeks ago, Metsa stumbled upon the lyrics in a long-forgotten drawer and decided to record the song and finally send it to Carr. But he never got the chance.

"He passed away the next day. The timing of that was spooky."

Metsa decided to record it anyway as a tribute to his old friend. Check it out:

"Drifting Away"

Sundown to sundown
Broke down merry go 'round
Monkey swings from the jail gate
Half-moon rises as the vultures wake

Brother to brother
Pledge allegiance blessed by blood
Coyotes howl at one another
Across the river of faded love

Oh you're drifting away, you're drifting away
May the blue clouds come through
Blow your bad dreams away

Snake tail swallows snake tail
First one's free at the fire sale
Lover's calling you a liar
As you jump through the ring of fire

Lightning striking lightning
Thunder roars in shipwreck bay
Waves washing over one another
Betrayed by silence, lost another day


Nothing for nothing
Draw water from an empty well
One last song for the forgotten
And blaming no one for the tale you tell

Words and music by Paul Metsa
Written for David Carr in the late '80s
Lyrics lost for years, recently found on 2/11/15

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