Showing posts with label Levon Helm. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Levon Helm. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm, 1940-2012

I am old enough to remember when there was only one "day the music died."

This, by God, has been the week the music died.

First, we learned Levon Helm -- of The Band, Levon Helm and the RCO All-Stars and his later years of "Midnight Rambles" -- was near death. Then Dick Clark died suddenly Wednesday at 82.

And now, just a day later, Helm has died, too.

The music dies more and more often these days, at least if you're someone my age. But like the savior of the world from a garden tomb, it always rises again, so long as we have our records and our CDs and a decent radio station here and there.

Levon Helm has found his release from this vail of tears, which he once brightened with his music. And which he brightens still.
Requiem æternam dona ei, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Requiescat in pace. Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We don't know what we've got till it's gone

It's easy to forget the music

Amid a radio landscape marked by "downsizing" and consultants, generic playlists and stations threatening to sue their listeners, it seems to be about everything but the music. On an Internet fractured into a billion subcultures, interest groups and -- yeah, this is about right -- tribes, it seems to be about nothing other than a virtual Tower of Babel.

It is what it is; we are who we are. And everything -- everybody -- is off key in this world of discordant notes. It's not about the music. And then you see this:

Levon Helm, the revered multi-instrumentalist and singer for the group the Band, is in the final stages of cancer, according to his family.

A heartbreaking note appeared on the musician's website Tuesday announcing that he is terminally ill:

Dear Friends,

Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage…

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.

From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy

SUDDENLY, we are reminded of the music by its absence. It's the story of life.

As Joni Mitchell put it:
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
OR. . . perhaps you might prefer Don McLean's take:
I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn't play

FRANKLY, I prefer to curse the passage of time and the ravages of cancer and culture. I prefer to not look in the mirror. I prefer to delude myself that I'm still 18 and my future is an endless horizon.

But we can't do that forever, now, can we?

Godspeed, Levon. And thank you.