Friday, March 19, 2010

I've been thinking about what to write and can't seem to settle on the right balance between nothing and everything. I'm struck by how many people have been truly affected by Alex's death. And all that is because of that intangible, indefinable something in his music and performances that reaches us ways that few other artists have or can. I'm not an outwardly emotional person. When one of my musical heroes has passed away – John, George, Miles – I might get a bit choked up. After I learned about Alex's death on Wednesday night I went into my son's bedroom to help him change his bed and broke down in tears. Completely lost it. I thought about that later that night as I lay in bed trying to sleep. Why the intensity of the reaction ? Alex and I were friendly over a long period but not really what you would call close friends. I didn't worship him or try to glom onto his notoriety. I did genuinely like him as a person, really enjoyed our times together, and learned more about music just being around him than I can articulate. But my work has brought me into contact with a lot of great musicians, many of whose work I revere. None have touched me like Alex. That relationship was cemented for life after hearing Radio City for the first time.

And then as a lay in bed I heard Blue Moon playing over and over in my head. That sound, that voice, that vibe. Now silenced. As Jody Stephens said, Alex's voice might have been imperfect, but few people could connect with listeners like Alex. I think we all know that feeling that he gave us, whether it was hearing September Gurls for the first time on vinyl or watching him perform April In Paris live in a club. It's futile to try to put your fingers on what that something he had really was. But we all knew it was there. And I'm thankful I got to experience it in a lot of different ways over many years. And if you're reading this, I'm sure you feel the same way.

More next week.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Amen, brother. I believe each of us has a musical artist, or two or three or more, with whom there is a connection/vibe/wavelength that resonates. Sort of like sticking a vibrating A440 tuning fork on the body of a guitar or under the lid of a piano and then the sympathetic vibrations begin, all without actually plucking a string or hitting a key. Even if it's explainable by the laws of physics, the first time it happens it's remembered, no, embedded as magic, satori, enlightenment, eye- and ear-opening.

Human memory is a wondrous thing.