Music and the New Year

‘Scuse me if I get introspective in these last days of 2010. It has been a year full of changes for me and many of my friends, gains and losses, dreams coming into focus, dreams out of focus… Through it all the music keeps going. Thanks to all the hardworking and creative people in my life I was able to host and/or participate in a lot of wonderful shows, beautiful music, great parties over this year.  Then I read about Aretha (Bob Herbert’s editorial in the New York Times, 12-26-10).

Aretha has been ill (pancreatic cancer), and is convalescing after surgery.  She’s 68, and has been a constant musical presence in my life since I was maybe 12 years old.  We danced to her music at middle and high school parties.  Then I got to play her music in my early bands, then my college bands, and after I moved to Texas her music followed me from band to band.  Any dance band has to know some Aretha songs: “Respect,” “Chain Of Fools,” “Natural Woman,” just to mention a few.  I have played them in great bands, not-so-great bands, at lavish galas in 4-star hotels, at grimy hole in the wall bars, at surreal music festivals in a field in the middle of nowhere, at late night parties with drunk girls screaming “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” in every key except the one the band played in…. Through the years the music of Aretha has added a kind of constancy and affirmation to the musical ride.  I’m sure there are many musicians, singers and music lovers out there who feel the same way.

So I just wanted to take a moment to think about Aretha Franklin and thank her for all the music.