Jackson County

A song for Jessie: Coast woman’s father grieves through music

Gary Bardwell wrote a song for his daughter, Jessie Bardwell, who police say was killed in Texas earlier this year.
Gary Bardwell wrote a song for his daughter, Jessie Bardwell, who police say was killed in Texas earlier this year. Courtesy Bardwell family

Gary Bardwell of Pascagoula has been playing music for most of his life. He plays a lot of gigs around the Coast, both as a solo artist and with his band Mirage.

But for the past few months, Bardwell’s life has been a nightmare.

It started when his daughter, Jessie Bardwell, 27, abruptly left for Texas with her boyfriend, Jason Lowe of Ridgeland. Jessie was reported missing by her family in early May after she failed to call her mother on Mother’s Day.

By the time Father’s Day rolled around in June, Bardwell’s daughter had been found dead, wrapped in a blue sheet in a field in rural Texas outside Dallas.

Jessie’s song

With his “whole world” taken from him, Bardwell said he has been spending his time trying to come to terms with the senseless death of his beloved daughter. And he has returned to his music as a way to cope with his overwhelming grief.

He wrote and recorded “Taken Away” in Jessie’s memory.

“Part of it came to me about a week after they left my house (with Lowe) and I just stated writing the lyrics down because if you don’t write it down, you’ll forget it,” Bardwell said.

That night would be the last time he would see her.

“I tried to talk her out of going because it was so out of her character to do that,” he said. “I don’t know what that guy told her to get her to leave.”

He said he hopes the song will help people to remember Jessie.

“She was a beautiful soul — she was a very happy person and she never met a stranger and she was always trying to help people and she just happened to meet that monster,” Bardwell said.

On May 16, Lowe was arrested and later charged with Jessie Bardwell’s slaying. He was indicted by a grand jury in Collins County, Texas, on the murder charge about a week ago.

Richardson, Texas, police Sgt. Kevin Perlich had been investigating the case since Jessie was reported missing.

“The coroner said the cause of death was homicidal violence,” he said. “That’s the cause of death listed on the death certificate.”

A living tribute

Bardwell said he wrote the song before his daughter’s memorial service and it was performed by a friend of his from Nashville.

“I decided to record it because his version sounded too much like a church song and I wanted to record something that maybe everyone would like,” he said. “I played all of the instruments but one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was sing that song.”

Bardwell placed a video of the song on his Facebook page for his music and then paid to have the post boosted.

He said he was overwhelmed by the response.

“I’ve already had more than 11,000 people listen to it,” Bardwell said.

As more and more people hear the song, he said he hopes it will get some attention.

“I would love for someone to hear this song and want to re-record it and donate the money to a house for abused women in Jessie’s honor.”

Bardwell has returned to performing and he said he’s trying to play as much music as he can to keep himself busy.

But it may be a while before he plays “Taken Away” at one of his shows.

“People come up to me and they are so kind and they want to talk to me about Jessie and it makes me cry — I started crying during a show the other night,” he said. “I’m just not ready to play that song in front of people and I may not ever be able to do it.”

‘Taken Away’ (Jessie’s Song)

I kissed her on her forehead,

she hugged me so tight,

She said, “Daddy, don’t worry,

It’s gonna be all right,”

As they were leaving,

Just a thing we used to do,

She signed to me with her right hand

I LOVE YOU

Taken away…Taken away

There’s a brand-new break in my heart

each and every day

Taken away…taken away

How many breaks can a heart take

until it’s taken away

Then they drove away

in the darkness of the night

I watched the taillights

as they faded out of sight

As I walked into the house

a feeling chilled me to the bone

I called her and I begged her

Jessie, please come back home

Taken away… Taken away

Please take this sadness away

in the world today

Taken away… Taken away

How many breaks can a heart take

Until it’s taken away

Now I see her dancing in the clouds

Smiling every day

Still pain consumes my heart…it won’t go away

She’s walking with her family

On those streets of gold

She will live forever in my heart and soul.

Written by Gary Bardwell, Jessie Bardwell’s father

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