Farewell to Don Cornelius

1 02 2012

Suicides never sit well with me.  Sadly, an entertainment legend, Don Cornelius, took his own life.


If you don’t know him by name, but you’re over 30, you probably know his work.  Don’s best known as the creator and host of Soul Train, a cool, primarily Afro-American dance show that ran from 1971 to 2006.  It was a groovier, funkier, more urban cousin of American Bandstand.  Don was so cool and smooth.  The dancing and music was great R&B, funk, disco and eventually hip-hop.

I was a white kid that grew up in an all-white area.  Despite living only about a dozen miles from where all that great Motown music was made, I didn’t listen to the kind of music that was played on Soul Train.  But I watched it a fair amount.  I was always amazed by the cool polyester outfits, big afros and the great dance moves by those in the audience.  Don always set up the next tune or artist so that you couldn’t help but stay glued to the set.

Don’s death came to my attention by way of a sports talk radio show.  One of the black hosts asked the audience whether we white folks watched Soul Train.  I obviously can’t speak for everyone, but I think we did.  I don’t know anybody that didn’t turn it on once in awhile.  It was great stuff in its heyday.

Here’s one of my favorite artists performing on the coolest show around.  Rest in peace, Don.


The Cosmic Dancer

16 09 2011

On this day in 1977, Marc Bolan died in a car crash in the southwest London area.  His girlfriend, Gloria Jones, was driving the car that tragic evening.  Bolan was killed instantly when their car went off the road and struck a tree.  Marc was only 29.

The last year or two, I’ve found myself heavily influenced by T. Rex.  Some songs have a surprising amount of depth.  Other songs are shallow or just plain weird.  Some of the attempts by Marc at poetry are god-awful.  But the music has a groove that is missing in music the last 10-15 years.  Looking back on it, T. Rex looks like something of a pioneering act.  On the human level, it is sad that someone so young died in such a way.


Jani Lane dead at age 47

12 08 2011

Yet another former rock star has turned up dead in a cheap motel.  Sadly, Jani Lane has passed at the all-too-young age of 47.  Not surprisingly, the cause of death is not yet determined (or at least not released to the public.)  Suicide or accidental overdose stand out as likely causes.


It’s always sad news when someone like Jani passes.  I can’t say his music meant anything  to me.  In fact, I always thought Warrant was pretty cheesy, so there’s no glowing epitaph to write.  I hope he has found peace and comfort now.


24 07 2011

This was written by a beautiful young women that I know.  It might seem current, but actually it was written in the summer of 2008, after the poem’s author first heard Ms. Winehouse’s <em>Back to Black</em> album.  It’s a moving piece and quite prescient.


Purple half-moons under frenzied eyes
Heroine chic, thin is in
Pasty skin
Smokey, come-hither echoes
From vocal chords.

Long, drawn-out bellows
Ghostly cries of love
Agony, ecstasy
Head bowed in worship
To the white powder before your nose.

Like a thick black mass
Time oozes under the steel door.
Life bleeds out the crackled window.
Suffocation is near
Tattooed bodies strewn around.

Inhaling cigarettes and salty gin.
Fame in four-inch pumps
clicking on the stage
Slurred words rolling.

Ebony hair piled beehive high
Spread your soul on the clean green grass
Daddy’s wringing his hands
Mommy’s done holding her cry.
Their toddler left the crib

And is running toward the lake.

Thanks Chris!

27 04 2010

An acquaintance of mine at my gym talks to me every morning, often about music.  He’s in his 50’s, which might be in the older side for this kind of music, but is quite the Alice in Chains fan.  For reasons I don’t quite understand he assumed I would really like watching the Alice in Chains DVD, Music Bank, so he brought it in for me to borrow.

It took me the better part of two weeks but I finally got around to watching it.  I couldn’t tell you why, but I couldn’t get their songs out of my head for the next week after that.  “Man in the Box,” “Rooster,” “Them Bones,” and “Down In a Hole” cycled through my mind endlessly for days.

I think back in the early 90’s I liked AIC well enough but I’d hardly call myself a fan.  I saw them open for Van Halen on the Carnal Knowledge tour and was impressed.  But to listen to them off the radio is something I’ve never done.

I think what draw me most to the music was the horrific accounts of Layne Staley’s drug addiction and final days on earth.  The songs made me do some reading on the ‘net about his life and what I found was so tragic — I could somewhat identify having known friends and family with drug problems — that I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  Haunting.  Like the creepiest parts of Trainspotting, Layne’s story was hard to block out.

I say thanks to Chris for exposing me to the music which I had forgotten was often quite good.  But I also “thank” him for the funk that reading about AIC and Layne Staley put me in, emotionally, for a few days.

A tear to my eye

6 04 2010

I’m a sentimental guy but not in ways that most would expect.  I have yet to shed a tear for my mom’s dog, who was basically our second dog, who was put to sleep yesterday.  But sometimes I get choked up over a really good rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

So I was surprised to see how moved I was by this song.  I got a lump in my throat listening to this in the book store today.  Now I feel like I must get Johnny’s album Ain’t No Grave.  This song, alone, makes it worth the purchase price.

“Lucy in the Sky” has passed away

28 09 2009

Lucy Vodden, who inspired the Beatles classic “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” has passed away.  Most Beatles fans — and even many casual followers — will recall the story that while the Beatles were writing songs for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Julian Lennon came home from school with a drawing of his classmate, Lucy.  He showed his father and explained that the drawing was “Lucy in the sky with diamonds.”

To this day, people refuse to believe that the song was about anything other than LSD, a surprising notion to cling to given that the John and his fellow Beatles were quite honest about the drug references that did find their way into songs and that they had experimented quite extensively with various substances.

Nevertheless, the young lady who inspired the song has sadly passed after a long battle with cancer.  Godspeed to her family and friends.