Last night I saw BREL: The Words and Music of Jacques Brel (you can click there to read my review). It's a must-see show if you're in Wellington. It's part of the NZ Festival and it runs until Sunday. You might remember, recently I interviewed Jon Toogood and he discussed his role in the show. Toogood was wonderful - the whole cast was amazing. Julia Deans was perhaps the revelation - she should do more of this! - but Tama Waipara was extraordinary and Jennifer Ward-Lealand made no mistakes. You're hearing all those wonderful, amazing songs - it's a great production. And it's perfectly placed at The James Cabaret (I love that place!). It really works in that space. So I just wanted to mention that.
I get home from the show - all these songs about death and dying, profound and funny andribald, witty and mischievous. But death hangs heavy - and so as I'm processing all of that I hear that Paco de Lucia has died. Sad news. That guy was amazing. Discovering his music was one of those 'wow' moments for me. The jaw drops. You're stunned into submission. There was something about the way he hit at those strings, whipping that guitar to make shapes so precise, but so full of emotion.
He was 66.
I posted my short eulogy piece and someone made a comment; pointed out that we've got a lot of these deaths to come. Social media fills up with tributes to Charlotte Dawson and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis - another day, another dearly beloved being mourned by hundreds or thousands who never knew that person but took something from the work, felt something because of the work.
We either react because of a connection, or because of a sadness around the death: suicide, being taken too young, freak accident. We react. And then we move on. I don't write about every famous musician when they die - some didn't mean all that much to me. Some meant more to me than you could ever know, a few words doesn't mean anything at all. Often, nowadays, with everyone blogging - or at least micro-blogging, there are more tributes than it's ever possible to work through. I figure adding one more does nothing - I'm torn of course between merely adding to the noise and also having a daily deadline.
I write about the people that have meant something to me through their work - I wrote about the passing of J.J. Cale, the death of Lou Reed, I wrote about the passing of Phil Everly and some sad news, recently, the death of Ronny Jordan (I wasn't a huge fan, but there was a moment when I really connected with his music, news of his death brought that back. As happens).
We've talked here before about the deaths that have saddened us most - people mourn for Johnny Cash and other giants. Cash has been gone for ten years now but through books and movies and reissues he's having more of a creative surge via a musical afterlife, you start to get cynical about who the 'real' fans were/are and whether or not a few tourists might be hitching a ride on the grief-train.
So this person that mentioned the fact that we have more of these deaths to come - what was meant there was that the rise of popular music in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s created so many of the heroes, those towering giants of rock and pop music that many of us have shaped memories around; their music has soundtracked our lives. So we're going to feel the pang when they go.
It might be a bit morbid - but the suggestion was to talk about the deaths we are going to feelthe biggest sting from. There'll be a bit of jingle-jangle mourning when Bob Dylan hangs up the harmonica and his gee-tar for that final time, say. Or when the last two members of The Beatles leave this world...
Who will you miss most of all? Who is the one musician you think you'll tear up over when you read the news that day, oh boy? Who is the musician you think you'll likely to mourn most?
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