Grace Notes

A Series of Essays for 2018

I needed a writing project for 2018 and I knew I wanted this one to be about music.  Reflecting back, I realized that there were a number of occasions in my life where either serendipitously or accidently on purpose,  I bumped up against some interesting people who also happened to be musicians.

Often the occurrences arose as a result of a little badge on a chain, called a press pas, that afforded me unique opportunities to at least get into some close proximity with an opening not usually available to others. (See Leonard)

Sometimes it’s pure blind luck on an airplane. (See future piece Joni)

Often that little press pass made me feel like a bit of an pretender but I did produce some decent work as a freelancer so I still feel a great deal of gratitude for some ideal opportunities it afforded me.

Generally I have always had an uneasy relationship around celebrity…I love film, sports, arts and politics for the moments of grace and greatness that comes with the territory.  However when these moments of greatness begin to turn into people of greatness, I start to get a bit cynical.

I am fully aware of the countless artists, entrepreneurs and politicians who are full functioning asshats in reality.  Cosby, Weinstein and Trump are the perfect trifecta these days.

Grace Notes is about an ordinary guy bumping naïvely into extraordinarily talented musicians in everyday circumstances.  A lovely surprise for me was that the grace note was that small lovely note of their humanity, their gift of the real person outside the mask of celebrity.

Every time it felt like a gift.

Billy

I first heard Billy Cowsill, like many of my generation, in the late sixties, on the push button radio of my 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook. The music was not coming through with the clarity of todays Bose car speakers, but it was still able to get through to our little rock...

Pops

Twenty five years ago, I had my own little blues metaphor going on with a wild Saturday night on the south side of Chicago where the devil shook my hand and my world. This was immediately followed by redemption, as the Lord’s own gospel singer shook that same hand Sunday morning.

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