The road ends, but the journey continues...

The (Unwanted) Power of Three: Roland, Leonard and Leon

Whether superstition, or relative to some innate programming within the natural world, death often occurs in multiples of three. My own family has recently experienced two losses close together and I hold out hope that the power of three will not prevail in our case.
However, in the musical world, I have a tally of three personal favorites who have passed within weeks of each other. Like my taste, each one is different from the other in genre, temperament and level of public awareness.
The first to begin this trio was Roland Dyens. Known extensively within the classical guitar world as a phenomenal guitarist, composer, arranger and innovator for the classical guitar since the Segovia era, M. Dyens passed away on October 29, ten days after his 61st birthday. (excellent tribute here in Classical Guitar Magazine)

I first became aware of this vivacious Tunisian born Frenchman during my days at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver in the mid 1990’s.  A new to-the-program graduate student from Canada chose Dyens’ Tango en Skai to play for the first performance class of the Fall quarter. I was immediately entranced and inspired.

On November 7th at age 82, the poet and 60’s incarnation of James Joyce turned singer songwriter Leonard Cohen passed away. Perhaps best known to the general public for his composition, Hallelujah, this ‘high priest of pathos’ was profoundly influential through his long and varied career. (excellent tribute here in bbc news)

I especially like fellow blogger Andrew James Murray’s tribute as follows (original found here)

So Long Marianne, So Long Leonard
by Andrew James Murray

Well it has to be said that 2016 has been ruthless. Now we have lost the great singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen. I am reminded of the letter that he wrote back in July to his one time muse, Marianne Ihlen, for whom he wrote the songs  So Long Marianne and Bird On A Wire, when he heard of her impending death.

Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.

‘And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.’

Now they take up the journey again together. R.I.P to one of the great artists of our time.


Leon Russell, Cone Denim Concert June 2015

Up close and personal, my kind of concert experience (Leon Russell, Cone Denim Concert June 2015)

The third member of this unwanted power of three trio is Leon Russell. While I listened to his music back in the days of my youth, it was my husband who embraced this man’s message and style. Luckily, hubby surprised me with a pre-anniversary gift of two tickets to see Leon in concert at the Cone Denim Auditorium in Greensboro, NC just last year (yes, that Greensboro; uncanny to be right across the street from the historic Woolworth’s)  Leon passed away on November 13 at the age of 74. (excellent interview with him here in 2014’s Sound Bard)
I asked my husband, Terry, which song was his favorite and he immediately answered: Stranger in a Strange Land. 

Adieu – Farewell – So Long
Roland – Leonard – Leon



  1. Donna

    What a year it has been. Don’t forget David Bowie and Prince too.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yes, and they, too, add to the fact that it’s not all about being a ‘certain age’….

  2. Andy

    Thank you for including my Cohen post.
    I loved all of the tracks you included. I had problems playing the third one so went to YouTube to listen-it was worth it.
    I love Jeff Buckleys’s Hallelujah cover. By coincidence-he would have been fifty today and so I had to mention it on Jackdaw.
    Another coincidence, about the power of three: remember our student who was in that accident? He has now been caught up in THREE accidents in under TWO WEEKS. Poor lad is on a bit of a streak.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Went on over to youtube to listen/see the Jeff Buckley cover – I like the electric guitar ‘spin’ on it. Thanks for directing me to him.
      Sounds like your Swiss student is having an earthy Manchester ‘exchange’ experience. Just hope he stays safe!

      • Andy

        He has to somehow survive until April!

        • laura bruno lilly

          Lord, have mercy! 🙂

  3. Deborah Brasket

    I wan’t familiar with the first and last artist you mentioned. But I enjoyed listening to each of them. The quote from Cohen and his song was especially moving. Thank you for sharing their music and their passing.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Ah that reminds me of a conversation I had several years back with a fellow working musician in response to my thanking him for giving me permission to use some of his scored out arrangements…”Music is for sharing”…
      Thanks for stopping by, Deborah.

  4. Jane Chesebrough

    I really liked K.D. Lang’s and Rufus Wainnwright’s version of “Hallelujah” but still love to hear Leonard sing it – he wrote it and he knows it-wonderful. The guitar playing by Roland Dyans was previously unknown to me but loved the notes and how he stressed them with his plucking.And finally, Leon Russell. Seen him on TV in various venues playing various genres. Thank you for the tribute. I could not listen to the last video as it was not available but will go to You tube.
    As for things coming in threes, I have experienced that. but the Creator gave me plateaus when I felt like I just couldn’t take anymore and though it was painful I found blessings in the grief.Take the time and take care of yourself.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I agree about listening to Leonard singing and playing his pieces. There are countless wonderful ‘covers’ of his Hallelujah; I chose this one as it appeals to my guitar sensibilities! 😉
      You are right about finding ‘blessings in the grief’ and about ‘taking time’…
      You take care, too.

  5. Anna Scott Graham

    I see threes too, and this one is a powerful trio. Then today I learned that Mose Allison died; my hubby is a big fan of his. May all these talents play together in a better place, and in your neck of the woods two is plenty for now….

    • laura bruno lilly

      Amen to that!

  6. Linda W.

    It’s always sad when great artists pass on. I’ll listen to these when I return home in the evening. Thanks for your tribute.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh please do give these a listen. I hope they unlock new musical vistas for you to explore. That’s the (unwanted) power of three at its best: music that keeps on giving.
      Have a great day, Linda.

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