The Southern Alliance For People and Animal Welfare (SAFPAW) has been working to improve the quality of life in Davidson County for people and pets in need. For the last few years, a group of Nashville musicians, spearheaded by East Nashville songwriter Tim Easton, have gathered to record a Bob Dylan song with a video to generate awareness and funds for this local nonprofit. I asked Tim about this year’s project, a cover of “Spanish Harlem Incident” and I asked SAFPAW founder Laurie Green about the needs of our homeless community and how SAFPAW helps people with their pets, including those that are housed but living at or below the poverty level. It’s truly a labor of love; Laurie Green has been at this for over 20 years with a staff of one, herself.
AnaLee: I was really happy to see that you have a new Dylan cover for SAFPAW, Tim. I think this is the fifth or sixth year and I was a little worried that it may not happen, thanks to the pandemic. But you have given us a wonderful version of “Spanish Harlem Incident” from the 1964 album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, which also contains last year's SAFPAW song, "All I Really Want To Do". Gabe Masterson at the Cafe Rooster Records studio recorded it again. Would you tell us about this year’s recording and how this annual project got started?
Tim: So happy to make this a part of my life, every year. We've done this 6 years in a row. The first one was for the homeless shelter downtown, and every year since then it has been for SAFPAW. I believe we all have our responsibilities as community members to look out for one another, and some of us, like Laurie, go several extra miles. Not all of us can do the work she does, so this is my way of helping her by shining a light on the work she does. My favorite Dylan album is "Another Side of..." because it was recorded in one day by a very young, ambitious, and poetic folk singer who was just about to go electric and really set the world ablaze. The energy of that day means a lot to me. Gabe Masterson and I have made a commitment to do this every year. It uplifts us and gets us excited to collaborate.
AnaLee: In years past, this has been a big group effort by several Nashville artists who donate their time and voices to this recording and video for SAFPAW. Talk a little about your collaborators over the years and how you choose which Dylan song to cover.
Tim: Basically, I invite all of my friends. I'd like it to go bigger and involve more artists that have a bigger reach. That what we are working towards doing. In the meantime, there is so much talent right outside my front door. Some of the most caring, thoughtful people who have taught me so much about life and how to live it. One major collaborator from years past is the writer/film maker Stacie Huckeba. She is the one who connected us with SAFPAW and Laurie Green. This year, I simply couldn't risk gathering a bunch of us together to record, and so I filmed and recorded the whole project at my house. One of my quarantine skills is that I've gotten better at recording. For mixing, I met Gabe Masterson over at Cafe Rooster Studios, which is another family I love to work with. I try to choose Dylan songs that are on the rare side. The first few were unreleased tunes of his. I want songs that work good in a group setting. This year, I simply chose one of my favorite songs of all time. It is such a poetic song which I presume is about a woman he met in Spanish Harlem one wild night in his youth. I love the line "so I can tell if I am really real." To anyone reading this, thanks so much for spreading the word about SAFPAW, which is the real focus here. Help yourself by helping your neighbors, especially the ones that are not doing so well today. Thank you.
AnaLee: Laurie thank you for the difficult work you do for people in need and their pets. Tell us about the needs that SAFPAW meets in the community, not just during the holidays but every day of the year.
Laurie: Thank you. This has been a labor of love or over 20 years and we are still putting boots on the ground every day. We assist people who are not housed with tents, sleeping bags, camping supplies such as camp heaters, propane, water, food, pet food, tarps... needs you may not even think about such as blankets, tennis shoes or boots, socks, water, baby wipes, first aid kits. We assist people in getting their ID, which is a TN state ID, social security card and birth certificate. To even begin the housing process, you have to have all 3 forms of ID. We assist folks in receiving mental health care and in finding a way to get into rehab when one has no insurance. We have their pets spayed or neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and other basic wellness issues taken care of every week and our services are free of charge for those we serve. In addition, our Parker's Patrol program feeds over 80 people in the Madison/Rivergate area every single Saturday night by delivering meals to folks. SAFPAW also owns Perian's Place where 3 people live full time as well as 3 dogs and 9 cats. The people (and the animals) have all survived being homeless but no more. SAFPAW/Perian's Place also serves as a resource center where folks can come and get something to eat, and camping supplies that we (hopefully!) have on hand.
AnaLee: Are there any specific items SAFPAW needs as we head into the colder months?
Laurie: Yes! 2 packs of 16 ounce propane bottles, camping "Buddy" heaters, large, sturdy tarps, tents, sleeping bags, socks, all day MTA bus passes and if you would like us to do the shopping then a WalMart gift card is great! And if I may add, we are also working on our 2020 Christmas Toy Drive, so financial donations are desperately needed. For 6 years now we have adopted a trailer park on Dickerson Road and we provide Christmas for every child there from birth to age 17. We need at least $3,000 and donations for that are down this year. I call this Toy Drive my Christmas present to myself as it gives me so much joy.
AnaLee: I highly recommend going down the YouTube rabbit hole and checking out all of the SAFPAW Dylan covers! Thank you, Tim and Laurie, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Tim Easton, “Spanish Harlem Incident”
Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org.