B.S. First Listen

Chris Porter’s Final Album

“Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You.”

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Memories from Chris Porter’s Friend & Mentor, Jon Dee Graham.

The Bitter Southerner often hears from established Southern songwriters about the up-and-coming tunesmiths they love. Three or four years ago, it seemed everyone was talking about Austin’s Chris Porter.

Porter was hard at work on his second album — with the legendary Will Johnson of Centro-Matic in the producer’s chair — when tragedy ended his career. On October 19, 2016, Porter and bandmate Mitchell Vandenberg died in a North Carolina car crash, on their way to a gig in Baltimore.

But we did not lose that second album. Johnson finished production, and next Friday, Alabama-based indie label Cornelius Chapel Records will release Porter’s final work, “Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You.”

Today, we’re proud to bring you the exclusive first listen. And we asked one of Porter’s friends and mentors in the Austin music scene, the great Jon Dee Graham, to share a few memories.

Chris Porter. I called him "Youngblood," and he was my friend.

On the one hand (let's say the left hand), Porter was NOT Most Likely To Succeed, and on the other (let's say the right), he was one of the best young songwriters in Austin. He gave me hope that someone gave a fuck about The Song. He once called me to ask if "THAT'S how it is" or "THIS is how it is" was a stronger line.

He was 6-feet-5 and weighed maybe 150 pounds. He was all arms and legs, and when he drank his face went bright red; he was a cartoon character, and I mean that as the highest compliment. It was impossible for him to talk and not use his hands … long arms flailing, wrists and hands twirling and exclaiming and providing physical punctuation for whatever story he was telling.

And he could tell a story. Listen to his first album, “This Red Mountain,” or “Don't Go Baby …,” and you'll see what I mean. He would occasionally ask a question about this lyric or that, and his questions were always hard to answer — because he was smart as hell and paid attention.

One last memory describes who he was:

On the last tour we did together, I'd been suffering from nightmare migraines, and the only thing that helped was oxygen. We were in the green room somewhere, with a capacity audience waiting, when a migraine hit me like a hammer. Porter said, “Well, go get your oxygen tank.” I replied, “Shit, I already feel like the old man. I don't want to walk through the audience carrying a fucking oxygen tank!”

Porter looked at me in disgust and disdain and huffed out of the room. I was lying on the couch, head exploding, when Porter came back into the green room with his denim jacket folded awkwardly under his arm. From it he extracted my O2 tank, which he had carefully concealed.

He clanged it to the floor beside me and said, “There you go, Grandpa. Street cred intact!”

I love you and miss you, Porter.