The weather has begun to turn. The leaves are changing colors and beginning to drop from the trees. New England has a pleasant beauty this time of year, which is not lost on me. There were times that I was worried I’d never see the beauty of life again; the music would forever be in mono. But life continues, and time numbs the pain and opens us up to beauty once again.
But what gets me now is that there is beauty that Gilad will never see. He will never see the majestic panorama of the Charles River in early October. He won’t get to see Avital grow up. He’ll never hear the heart wrenching beauty of music again. Why do the rest of us get to experience beauty, but Gilad does not? Shouldn’t the world be stripped of beauty without him here?
I was listening to a recording the two of us did a few years back, complete with two part harmonies. Now, I’m not much of a singer, and I’m even worse at harmonizing than I am at singing solo. But for some reason, I could always harmonize with Gilad. Whenever we sat down with our guitars and began to play and sing, something always clicked musically and vocally, and we were always able to weave our voices together.
And while I miss this with all of my heart, and have a difficult time believing the fact that we’ll never sing together again, it also gives me a bit of comfort – because with Gilad gone, so went this beautiful thing that we had together. A bit of beauty and art and music has been erased from the world.
Gilad, the seasons are changing again. Life is going on, and you’re not here anymore. And it rips my heart to shreds every time I think about it. But the world is still beautiful, and that’s ok – you would’ve wanted it that way. Yet, I’m somewhat comforted that you were able to take a bit of beauty away with you; that without you in the world, there are some things that will never be perfect or completely beautiful.
It was only appropriate that I found out about Steve Jobs’ passing on Twitter. Jobs basically revolutionized the world of technology, and it was only fitting that we all found out about it with the only social network that is going to be deeply integrated into iOS5.
Jobs’ greatness goes beyond computers. Jobs reinvigorated a struggling Apple in the early 2000s with the introduction of the iPod. At the time, it seemed like a ridiculous idea. Who in their right mind needed 20GB of music with them? Most people were content with carrying around a Discman and a small CD-sleeve (though some of us would carry the CD-books that held hundreds with us everywhere we went); who could need that much music with them at once?
What Steve had, and what the iPod represents, is vision about music and how people relate to it. Jobs was able to see that people wanted to be able to take all of the music with them, and he wanted to make it as easily accessible as possible. I have no idea what the New York City subways looked like in the 90s, but in the 2000s, you would’ve been hard-pressed to be in a subway car without seeing four or five people with those iconic white earbuds in their ears.
No longer was it just the music geeks who walked around the city with headphones in – now it was everyone. And while the music of the masses may not always agree with me, that the masses were always listening to music was a good thing and revolutionized the music industry.
So to a great innovator, a brilliant visionary, and a damn good computer scientist – this one’s for you. Rest in peace, Steve.
Posted onJuly 25, 2011|Comments Off on Amy Winehouse: 1983 – 2011
It was with sadness that I turned on the computer after Shabbat this week to discover that Amy Winehouse had passed away. Her life was a tragically brilliant one, with her unbelievable talent weighted down by her demons of addiction. Her sultry jazz voice was well beyond her years, and the beautiful songs she wrote didn’t always seem to match her persona.
And while the gossip columnists will spend the next few weeks hypothesizing about the cause of death, at the end of the day that’s irrelevant. What we had here was a fantastic singer and songwriter who was taken well before her time – joining the terrible 27-club already populated by Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. Now, Amy Winehouse too, is a member. She has tragically joined the ranks of a legion of brilliant musicians who all died well before their time. Continue reading →
Posted onMay 31, 2011|Comments Off on Gil Scott-Heron: 1949-2011
If you know anything about jazz, beat poetry, funk, spoken word, or rap, then you’ve heard of Gil Scott-Heron. Hailed by many as the godfather of rap, Scott-Heron adamantly refused that title, going as far as to criticize rap music in 1993’s Message To The Messengers. But whatever he was, Scott-Heron’s life, career, and art was tinged – at different times – with brilliance, hypocrisy, revolution, tragedy, innovation, and myriad more adjectives. Continue reading →
Joseph William Perkins, more commonly known as Pinetop Perkins, was one of the all time great blues pianists. And if you think you’ve never heard his music before you’re probably wrong.
He played with Earl Hooker in the 50s and 60s, and with Muddy Waters in the 70s. He holds the honor for being the oldest winner of a Grammy Award at age 97, winning the Best Traditional Blues Album for his 2010 album “Joined At The Hip.” He also won in that same category in 2008 for “Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live In Dallas,” as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2005 Grammys. Continue reading →
Elana and I got married a week ago. And three days ago, one of our best friends, one of my groomsmen, and one of the best guys I’ve ever had the honor to know, passed away suddenly.
The blow of finding out a best friend died suddenly is an entirely new world of horrible. We know the world of disease. We’ve done the cancer. We’ve seen a brother, son, and friend battle a disease for years before succumbing to it. We know of drawn out death. We’re all too familiar with that kind of pain. But the early morning unexpected phone call? The “are you sitting down?” The stunned disbelief? This is news to us.
And so here we are, on the early morning before Ilan’s funeral, trying to come to terms with this new kind of punch to the stomach. This new kind of overwhelming pain and sorrow. This new kind of horror.
So I turn to what I know – the written word, and music. Though I was always a fan, Ilan really made me get more into the Counting Crows – especially their live stuff. And though this song is from a free show they did in NYC that Ilan decided not to attend with us – he had good reason for not coming; a famous chef was cooking in a kosher restaurant in Manhattan. So he traded one of his passions for another that night, in a way only Ilan could.
Ilan – you were the greatest. Soft spoken, but always heard. Dedicated to your friends, your passions, and your loved ones. And the best birthday buddy a guy could ask for. I’m really going to miss you.
Whether you attended a Jewish day-school, Hebrew school, or went to a camp that had any inkling of Judaism to it, you knew Debbie Friedman. I’m not the most avid fan of folk music, and I quite dislike all Jewish music (excluding, of course, my very own high school band – The Matzah Balls – who played heavy metal versions of Jewish songs). But while I wasn’t necessarily into the music itself, the songs bring back memories for me. Memories of ridiculous summers at terrible JCC camps. Memories of getting kicked out of music class every single time in the 3rd grade. And when it comes to Jewish music, especially Jewish folk music, memories seem to be the point.
Jewish music isn’t written for the ultra-Orthodox or the extremely-religious. It’s written for those who have a tenuous connection to their religion. It’s written to remind people of some of the beauty that a religion has to offer. It’s written, in short, so that one day we will have these nostalgic feelings about some religious experience somewhere along the way, and there will be some pang of connection, a tiny memory of being part of something greater.
With the loss of Debbie Friedman, we’ve lost one of the great creators of Jewish folk music, and one of the great connectors of Jews everywhere.
Early this morning, Solomon Burke, “The King of Rock ‘N Soul,” passed away in an Amsterdam airport. He was 70.
For the uninitiated, Burke was one of the greatest blues and soul singers of all time. His style and voice are both innovative and familiar; innovative because he’s one of the first musicians to bring his experience as a pastor into his music, and familiar because every soul and rock singer stole a bit of his style.
Some of his songs are so familiar that you didn’t even know he wrote them. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love, the hit song from The Blues Brothers movie was written by Burke, as was Cry To Me, the hit song from Dirty Dancing.
His legacy, both musically and familially (he’s survived by 21 children, 90 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren), will be with us for a long time, as this larger than life soul-man will forever be remembered for his influence on the blues and soul scenes.