Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Now we remembe bigger deaths of larger people than you.
Hi, it is Texino. I don't write on the Bluegrass List much these days, because my stuff tends to get outside the small world which, after all, is necessary to maintain the purity of the genre. What I am writing here is a bit like something I posted over there in response to folks talking about the long ago deaths of some great players and speculating about how it seems many greats in the guitar music world have met with death early on and , therefore, may not have reached full potential. That guy over there for instance. His name is Clarence White and he was known as the preeminent acoustic flat picker of his time until his life was cut short when he was hit by a car while unloading equipment outside a club. I was a fan of Clarence White and I remember that I was playing a club in Newport, R.I. when this happened. As a point of interest, I had been a little cross because White had recently joined up with the Byrds or The Flying Burrito Brothers, one, and in doing that, not only had he taken up the Electric Guitar, but also made some changes to the instrument allowing it to pedal its strings like a steel guitar and do it by yanking on the strap. In retrospect it seems the boy was getting about as far away from acoustic flat picking as a man could get, leaving one to wonder would he have been remembered for that particular talent at all, had he lived. Well he died before most of the people outside that immediate circle realized what he was up to, so each year the list bemoans his loss. Now as much as I would, and to some extent do, love to push the buttons to point out some kind of cosmic governing device may be keeping the talent pool level by whacking the random guitar genius just as he or she seems to be making the grade. I really have to hold the hand of logic as I go, and this helps me to see how, in a lot of cases, lifestyle choices have led these folks into some reckless behavior, the sort of which kills lots of young people every year music prodigy or not. Also, some people who seem amazingly adept at one thing may be slap dog crazy in all other aspects of life; those people just do not stay around too long at all. Then and maybe most overlooked there is the fact that quite a few of these wondrous talents have survived and, reaching a level of un paralleled virtuosity, seem to grow introspective and then become able to teach or at least imply the fact that the bar has risen and then watch as a whole new crop comes up. Farm that funky talent as it were. Of course, and this is the fun part, logic does not always carry the whole day. So in the twilight we can celebrate the lives of our beloved players; even watch them on Youtube and get as close to knowing them as you could have in their day, and while we will never cheat nor totally confound death, I think it's OK to tweak his nose a bit, though for safety's sake an assumed name is advised.