Burque bibliophiles were probably more than a little mixed in their feelings about the March 18 reopening of Bird Song Used Books (526 Washington NE, near Lomas). An Albuquerque staple for decades, the shop consistently offers a terrific selection of books, including Southwestern fiction and Westerns, sci-fi, history and more. Over the years, Bird Song has been host to in-store cats, a pretty sweet Ralph Steadman illustration and exquisite jewelry hand-beaded by co-owner Morwyn Mullins.
Unfortunately, Morwyn is now flying solo. Her partner in business and in life, Asa Mullins, died on Saturday, March 8, after a long illness. The Weekly Alibi reached out to Morwyn for a brief history of Bird Song, her thoughts on the relationship that fueled this beloved retail storefront and the future of the store.
“He was the most widely read, best informed, violently opinionated, left-of-left liberal I've ever known,” Morwyn says. “A generous heart, happiest when on his bicycle or giving someone a helping hand, he will always be the best person I have ever known.
“Asa and I met when I first started working at Page One (in 1995), and he was a manager of Page One Too,” she recalls. “We were so in sync from the beginning—and we both had definite ideas about what a bookstore should be. When we took over Bird Song (from former owner Bradley Bumgarner-Kirby) in 1997, it felt like fate.”
Asa worked actively in the store until 2010, when his physical ailments finally made it impossible to continue. When his situation turned terminal last year, Morwyn started “Life With/Out Asa,” designed (according to its tagline) “to share the life and end times of one very sick dude and his rudely healthy wife.”
When asked for her thoughts on the future of Bird Song without him, the self-described “widow Mullins” acknowledges the gravity of the loss, not just personally but to the business. “Going forward, I wish I could say that I knew him so well, knew his mind so thoroughly that I can extrapolate what he might say or advise in any situation I may face going into the future, but the truth is—he always had a way of completely surprising me. He always deferred to my judgment in business stuff, but his unique insights, which greatly informed my decisions, will be very hard to do without.”
As of right now, Bird Song Used Books will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11am to 5pm; call the store at 268-7204 to confirm.
Over the years, I became friends with both Bird Song owners. After a while, when I’d return home with bags so loaded with books that they strained not to break under the weight, I’d announce to my partner not that I’d been to Bird Song, but that “I went to see Asa and Morwyn today.” Asa’s kind laugh and open heart brought a wonderful sense of camaraderie to an already wonderful place.
Thank you, Asa. And goodbye.