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'The Portrait:' A son, a song and a story

Posted at 8:24 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 12:45:10-05

DENVER — When a Colorado singer was looking for inspiration for his next big song, he didn’t have to look far for a subject.

In fact, he didn’t have to look any further than a piece of art hanging on his living room wall.

“It’s a story that’s, well, it’s just an amazing story,” singer Tim Irvin said.

Irvin has been performing around Colorado and around the country for decades, with a unique mix of folk, blues and narration to his music. His latest song is titled ’The Portrait.’

“We all are given gifts to call our own. Special skills we need to hone. A painter paints, a singer shares his song. A truth as old as time to pass along,” the chorus goes.

In the song, Irvin goes on to tell the story of how the portrait on his living room wall came to be. The portrait is of his father, Lawrence Irvin.

“My dad told me this story that in World War II, he was stationed in Cherbourg, France,” Irvin said. “He wound up being stationed in this prisoner of war camp in Cherbourg, France where he met and befriended a young German soldier.”

According to Irvin, that soldier, named Frederick, was an artist who had been forced to join the German army against his will. Inside a prisoner of war camp, he had no access to art supplies or the ability to do what he loved. So, Tim’s father decided to take a rather drastic step.

“So Lawrence dressed Frederick in his spare American Red Cross captain’s uniform and the two of them jumped in a Jeep drove through the gates,” Tim said.

The story goes that the two drove into a nearby town, bought art supplies for Frederick and then returned to the camp.

“Frederick, to show his gratitude, painted Lawrence’s portrait,” Irvin said.

That portrait bears the signature of Frederick, and the year it was painted, 1944.

“I think he just want to show his gratitude for a moment of freedom,” he said.

He tells the story to anyone who sees the portrait hanging in his home. But he wanted to share it to a larger audience, and so in 2020, Tim decided to tell that unique story in his own form of song and narration.

“I think about my father,” Tim said about when he sings the song. “And the fact that he did this and came out smelling like a rose.”

The full music video for the song can be found here.