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.
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