In an effort to periodically promote more diversity and versatility, I invite readers to currently join me in considering the work, lives and creativity of some musicians who relatively recently passed away. I find the topic interesting and I simultaneously find a related subject of interest: the manners our opinions and beliefs are sewn throughout our interdependent personal interests. Discussion and comments are encouraged, as always.
Gerry Rafferty is best known for hits such as Baker Street and Right Down the Line. He left us in 2011, perhaps to join the Higher Power he described calling out to in City to City, my favorite Rafferty song. Goodnight and go on home, Gerry...
Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band suffered an irreparable loss when sax player Clarence "Big Man" Clemons passed away in June of 2011. The Big Man loyally collaborated with The Boss for decades, and perhaps fans will most remember him for his now-legendary contribution to Jungle Land. I have often thought if the feeling of being a young man, with all of its passions and nostalgia, had a sound, this sax solo would be that sound.
Unless one happened to appreciate the genuine talent of Amy Winehouse, they might be more likely to recall Winehouse's battles with her demons than anything else about her. However, she accomplished the holy grail of being authentically creative within an industry where musicians struggle endlessly - and quite uniformly - to be unique. While committing tragically ironic mistakes, such as rebelliously singing about refusing to go to rehab, the young woman nonetheless displayed a style and torch voice not paralleled for generations.
Winehouse was adored by her fans for both her original work as well as her interestingly creative covers. Those who loved her will indeed still love her tomorrow, regardless of mistakes she made, while the rest, who fail to realize such eccentric characteristics are simply par for the course among such personalities, never understood people like Winehouse in the first place.
During decades of tragedies both relatively unavoidable and self-induced, the dwindling number of surviving members of southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd emerged and evolved. The year 2009 saw the loss of piano and keyboard player Billy Powell, whose talents were long time staples of Skynyrd hits. In addition to his outstanding musical ability, Powell will be remembered for courageously taking the role as a physically and emotionally battered spokesperson in the wake of the infamous and devastating plane crash of 1977.
Perhaps nowhere among the often broken lives and bones of the music industry are life's tragic and glorious ironies more observable than in the remarkable saga of Lynyrd Skynyrd. American writer Ernest "Papa" Hemingway once said, "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." True enough, I'd say.
Play it pretty for Oakland...