Old Pal

Jim Tompkins (Tim's dad) and Max Peck, old pals in the 1940s
Jim Tompkins (Tim's dad) and Max Peck, old pals in the 1940s

Old Pal

Words by: James W. Tompkins (Tim’s dad)  |  Music by: Tim Tompkins


Old Pal, Old Pal, the ev’ning shadows fall,
My tears are falling, too.
Old Pal, Old Pal, I seem to hear you call,
As I have called to you.

And still, Old Pal, the thoughts that bless and burn,
The dreams that won’t come true,
All seem to say that we must live and learn,
And still come smilin’ through.

Old Pal, Old Pal, as long as hearts can beat,
As long as lips can pray,
Somewhere, somehow, I know we two shall meet,
Somewhere, Old Pal,


Frances called me at work in the autumn of 1998, a few months after Dad died, to read me a short poem she had found while going through his papers. We were both struck by its emotional strength and simple faith. The manuscript does not indicate for whom it was written, so we will never know for sure. But Max Peck is the best of our several guesses. I wanted very simple accompaniment to keep the focus on the words, so I limited the guitar part to only three strings, with no instrumental development.

Performance Credits:

Tim Tompkins: Voice and the upper 3 strings of a classical guitar.

Production Credits:

Recorded, mixed and mastered at the GallopAway Music studio in San Juan Bautista, CA.
Stream sound recording done by Tim on the north bank of the Salmon River, Idaho’s “River Of No Return.”
Among Dad’s notes to my brother Tom and me in the letters we opened upon his death, we found, “My only regret is that we didn’t spend more time together … fishing.”

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