Tag Archives: In Memorium

behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain

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.

I miss you and love you.

Ryan Adams – Dirty Rain

R.E.M. – 31 Glorious Years

They were never my favorite band. They were never even in the Top 10. But somehow, they were always an important presence. When I spent middle school only listening to Metallica on 98 Rock, they were there. During the 2-month span that I listened to pop-dance music on 102.7  (back during that 2-month span that it was a pop-music station), R.E.M. was there. When I started going back to my grunge and alternative roots on WHFS and DC101, they were there.

Which begs the question: If a band is hailed as one of the first alternative groups, how the hell did they manage to get played on every single radio station? Wasn’t the music supposed to be alternative? Continue reading

one year

It’s been one full year since Gilad passed away. A full year without our beloved brother, son, uncle, friend. A full year without that stunning smile that could light up a room, without that quick wit, without that unbending yearning to read and learn and understand both life and death.

On my way to work, I stopped by the place where I got the phone call, learning that Gilad had taken his last breath. I stopped by that bus stop in Waltham, and sat in my car for a few minutes, just remembering. Not remembering the horrible content of the call, or how our lives changed so much in its wake. Remembering those last moments when Gilad was still alive. Because that’s how I always want to remember him – smiling, alive, happy, and healthy.

Throughout this year, so much has happened and so much has changed. Right afterward Gilad died, I wrote about how I would think of something that I wanted to tell Gilad, immediately realizing that I could no longer do so, and the crushing feeling that comes with that. But as the weeks turned into months, that happened less, and the pain and sorrow became less constant; the never-ending throbbing in my heart turned into a lump in the back of my throat, and then to an ache that was only present here and there, as if brought on by changes in the weather.

This is the process of grief. We think. We remember. We laugh. We cry.

This past Sunday, we had the unveiling of Gilad’s gravestone. And like the weather, we couldn’t make up our minds as to the tone of the ceremony. As the sun turned to thunderstorms and back around again, our stories went from sad to happy, and both tears and laughter filled our faces.

We thought. We remembered. We laughed. We cried.

So it’s been a year. The crushing pain is far removed. Those once lucid memories are now somewhat foggy and muddled. But we still keep Gilad in our hearts and minds. We still think of Gilad flashing that charming smile. We remember him crawling through sewer pipes, copying his older brother’s outfits, playing guitar in the hallways at school, or just chilling. We remember him as he was – amazing, smart, charming, clever, and great.

Gilad, we miss you more than ever, but we’re doing our best to still be ok, and to continue living, even though sometimes it hurts so much to go on without you. We miss you, and we will always love you.

Bon Iver – Blood Bank

LCD Soundsystem – Someone Great

The Tallest Man on Earth – The Gardener

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

Kurt Cobain: 1967-1994

April 5th wanes, as does the 17th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. It’s been 17 years since the musical world lost one of its most troubled souls. It’s been more than a decade and a half since we heard that intense, soul rattling voice; and the world of music hasn’t been the same since.

His music had that unique ability to both get you to jump out of your chair and dance around like a maniac while playing air drums with the pencils in your hands, and at the same time make you stop and think – force you to listen to his voice straining, the poetry of his lyrics tugging at your soul, as this man and his band bore their way into our musical consciousness like no one before them, and no one since.

So, to celebrate this man’s all-too-short life, his unbelievable talents, and the catalog of music he left behind, I wanted to share a few songs. Yishai suggested the video, and I thought all of these tracks show the band in all of its forms: intense, energetic, pained, and soulful.

Kurt – this one’s for you.

Nirvana – Been A Son

Nirvana – Polly

Nirvana – Pennyroyal Tea

Pinetop Perkins: 1913 – 2011

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.

Counting Crows – Richard Manuel

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

When I worked in the writing center at Yeshiva University, there was a giant poster on one of the walls of the room. The poster featured Martin Luther King Jr. and had the following quote:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Today, we celebrate Dr. King. And interestingly, we don’t celebrate the day he was shot; we celebrate his birthday. Because, there will always be bigots, idiots, and people who don’t understand. There will always be those who hate, and those who kill. But despite that, and despite King’s assassination, the civil rights movement lives on. So we celebrate, not the hitches in the road, not the acts of hate. We celebrate the light, and we celebrate the love. Happy birthday, Dr. King.

Kanye West – All Of The Lights (Interlude)

The Tallest Man On Earth – Love Is All

Debbie Friedman: 1952 – 2011

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.

Debbie Friedman – The Latke Song

Captain Beefheart: 1941-2010

Captain Beefheart, the stage name of Don Van Vliet, and the ringleader of The Magic Band, died yesterday on December 17th 2010.

I don’t know very much about Captain Beefheart. I had heard of his as this nuttier version of Frank Zappa, an innovative musician who bent rules and defied genres. His music was wacky, but surprisingly accessible. Like the Velvet Underground, every band trying to sound like they had good and interesting tastes would cite him as an influence. Continue reading