A Final Farewell: A Look At The Tragic End Of Wisconsin Folk Group The Narrators & Their Last Album, ‘Long Gone’

With a decades-long musical relationship coming to a premature end in tragic fashion, The Narrators have released their fourth and final album, Long Gone.

The Americana/folk duo consisted of lifelong friends Jim Felhofer and Tom Dupuis. The two had been making music together for over 30 years, and their sound blended Americana, folk, bluegrass, country, blues, and even power pop.

Sadly, on October 1st, 2021, 57-year-old Dupuis passed away after a two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.

Long Gone is an album the two had started in January 2018 with the goal of digging deeper and tapping into a more vulnerable and melancholy side of themselves. As time went on, the unexpected and the even more unexpected happened. Dupuis found out he was sick, and not long after, the world was turned upside down with Covid clamping down.

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After Dupuis’ passing, Felhofer was determined to get the album ready to release to the world. He went into the studio in January 2022 and did what he had to do to make it a reality, releasing the deeply sentimental collection of songs on September 30th, 2022.

And if you’re looking for a happy album- keep looking. Many of the songs on Long Gone will take you places you may not want to go, but they’re worth the trip.

The title track, “Long Gone,” is a standout on the album.

The guitars and the piano are simple yet effective, seamlessly shaping themselves around Dupuis’ and Felhofer’s vocals. Their voices blend smoothly as they sing about how wishing for something that is out of reach is a waste of time. This song would fit perfectly at the end of a movie without a cliche happy ending. The song keeps it real, looking at life for what it is: imperfect.

The final song, “The Other Side,” is one that deals with grief and loss. It is a soft and vulnerable song, and Felhofer’s emotional vocals shine through. Halfway through the song, it picks up and introduces percussion and a bluesy electric guitar. It is an appropriate way for the album to end. The final lyrics are heart-wrenching and ask the ultimate question: “Can you tell me my friend / Will we meet again / Will we sing the songs we sang for so long?”

When talking about how Dupuis’ shaped the trajectory and existence of The Narrators, Felhofer shared, “As a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, Tom’s contributions to The Narrators’ music are many, but among all of them are his vocal harmonies that stand out as a defining element of our sound.”

The Narrators are proof that meaningful, heartfelt, and genuine music has nothing to do with charts, a following, awards, or other semi-superficial accolades. It’s about sharing a special one-of-a-kind bond with others, whether that’s fellow band members, your fans, family, and/or friends. Life is short and life is fleeting, and sometimes all we have are the little things like writing songs together that mean so much.

“It’s the little things that linger on.”

In Memory of Tom Dupuis

*Note: Paul Howard contributed to this article.

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