“You talked to him about funny, stupid, absurd things that just made you pee laughing,” Waterman recalls. “Some of the most enjoyable experiences [I’ve had] were with Fred.”
Later, as he heads back to Oxford, a hazy sunset turns the air to taffy. Waterman pops in a cassette, and across the dash comes the thrilling tang of McDowell’s slide guitar. Waterman passes families on porches, a tractor in a willow’s shadows, children playing dodge ball in the dust. “We’re listening to Fred in Fred’s country,” he says. A tear appears in the corner of his eye. And on he drives.