Last summer when it was clear that I would probably never see best-friend Gary Clark again and was driving to Colorado to see my son and his family, I played an old Van Morrison album I’d just purchased. The album began with
and it was impossible to get that song out of my mind for the rest of the trip, particularly when Gary’s girlfriend called me the 4th of July to tell me that he had died before I could get back to see him one last time as I’d promised before I left.
The song took on a new meaning on the return trip, and at times I would even punch the button to play it again and again. That double album has stayed in the car ever since, and though I often play my iPod instead when on long trips, I’ve listened to the album on nearly every day trip I’ve taken alone since last summer.
Of course, the song took on an even darker significance with Ted’s death in March. At least Gary’s death made “sense.” At my age, friends dying is all too common. As painful as it is, it’s not as painful as losing someone in their 30’s.
However, I didn’t play the song merely to remind myself that Gary and Ted had recently died. I already knew that. No, listening to the song helped me quit trying to figure out why they had died or wondering if there wasn’t something I should have done to prevent it. I simply accepted the fact that their death’s made me sad; and that, at least, was precisely as it should be. I wouldn’t want to be someone who wasn’t saddened by the death of someone close to him.
I just read that the original singer of this song, Bobby Blue Bland died in July of this year. Apparently you can’t embed his songs in a blog, but this provides a link to youtube where you can hear the original Duke version of the song:
In fact, the first time I heard Van Morrison’s version of the song I hated it. That just wasn’t the way the song was supposed to sound. After I read of Bobby’s death I had to find it on youtube because I don’t have a computer copy of Bland’s version of the song; it’s still waiting in a stack of records in the closet to be transcribed to the computer. It’s a tribute to Bobby’s talent that I still prefer his version because judging from the number of records I own and the number of top songs on iTunes, Van Morrison is actually my favorite musician, just edging out Bobby Blue Bland.