Talking with local poet and performer Mick Lynch is a merry experience. No matter the valleys or obstacles he describes in his journey, there is a twinkle in his eye and a lilt in his voice when he tells the tale. And even though every person experiences a unique journey, artists chronicle theirs through their art.
Sometimes that art is an uninterrupted through-line from childhood. With others, as with Lynch, it is an evolution, a journey of discovery, of chance and choice.
He was born into a family of storytellers. His father, Ken Lynch, was a very successful New York radio and TV actor. His radio credits included “The Falcon,” “21st Precinct,” “The Shadow” and “Gunsmoke.” “My father would get killed a couple times a night,” said Lynch. “My mother also did radio.” His father’s TV career spanned 24 years and included appearances in the most successful series from 1959 through 1983.
Mick made his way to Los Angeles and a career in TV and music editing and directing. “I spent 20 years as a film editor, assistant on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The Waltons’ and ‘Eight is Enough.’ I also directed episodes of ‘Murder She Wrote.’
“But then I had a collision with life in Los Angeles,” Lynch smiled in telling the story of needing to halt a personal downspin and finding a way up and out. For him it was in writing, in telling his story, accurately, painfully, but merrily. He chronicled his ascent in “Out A’ The Pine — Aas un Allum, A Lyric Journey.”
With his permission, we reproduce a bit of it below, but it is truly best to hear Mick loft the words, till they dance around you, making even the pain somehow lovely and lyrical.
All those people you hurt,
From the doin’ and dirt,
Embarrassed I was for that stuff.
Now your house is a heap,
From the sowin’ you reap,
And, there’s pieces of wood in your duff.
So, now take the first step,
Like a house that’s been swept,
You’ll feel cleaner, though nobody saw—
For your life was no show,
But, now surely they’ll know,
That this Mick has met up with the law.
So I walked out the door
With meself and no more,
And the fear like a stone in me gut.
But the feelin’s were new,
Though I hadn’t a clue
Trustin’ somethin’ I didn’t know what.
Mick roamed around L.A. knocking on doors seeking a place to perform “Out A’ The Pine.” He finally got an opportunity at an Irish theater in North Hollywood. “That’s where it started,” he said of his journey from TV editor and director to itinerant poet and performer.
From L.A., again through choice and chance, Mick made his way to Idyllwild.
“Idyllwild is a town where people come to finish things of the heart,” he said. He arrived here the day after 9/11. “I did some poetry that Friday at Café Aroma for Frank [Ferro],” he recalled. That was the local launch of Mick, the Idyllwild poet, actor, musician, singer and storyteller.
While in Idyllwild, Mick founded the Idyllwild Poetry Society with Myra Dutton. Later, with Michael Ryder and Andrea Bond, he sang and played fiddle with Two Micks and a Chick.
Mick’s current project, to be unveiled at a house party on Saturday, Nov. 14, is a collaboration with Dick Halligan, one of the founders of the iconic jazz/rock horn band Blood, Sweat and Tears. “Dick improvises and I recite my poetry and tell my stories,” said Mick. “Radio Tales,” a compilation of 23 poems and little stories, is just that, a recounting of Lynch’s life journey — an homage to his father, his upbringing, a celebration of his life’s peaks and valleys, and the pleasure and the pain of the journey. Mick said Dick plays in moments of poetry pause, improvising as he listens to the stories. “At times I’ll pull back and Dick will expand with more music,” he said. The house performance is a preview of what both men expect to be a wider marketing of the collaboration.
“I guess I came to Idyllwild to find myself, unbeknownst to myself,” said Mick, smiling as he often does. And the finding continues through his words, his music and his irrepressible good humor.