You know, I wish this light was all light, that it would follow only us.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some of these days...

Jack Rose

Jack Rose was my friend, and perhaps the only person I ever knew worthy of the tricky accolade, genius. News of his death, announced earlier today on various web sites, came to me in the check out line of a grocery store. I lost my breath and felt instantly, physically moved by the loss. Such is a kind of ripe and shoving form of humankind that we might as easily kill ourselves as to believe it could ever leave us.

He said you were either a Zappa man or a Beefheart man--it brought me immense pleasure to know we were both--in so much as I was ever either--the latter. He was a motherfucker, a dick to the creatively benign, whose wrath helped shape my own convictions. He taught me that the core of the artist was self-belief--belligerent if need be. Myopia at all costs and myopia never. He was a whiskey drinking pal whose love and vituperous opinions awoke as easily on a workaday lunch break as in late hours after indie rock claimed most of us in sentimental oblivion, stating with sober heart, You know, The Doors are goddamned underrated!

He was of course the heir to John Fahey and the abstract blues embodied by the Takoma sound, the U.K. folk, the Delta before any of it--he was a self-taught dynamo. Jack made Kensington sound like Eden, recovering some of what we lost without us knowing we lost it.

I remember the night we had him and Michael Chapman over after a show to bunk. Chapman was full of stories of young John Martyn and the British folk world that a fool would say made Jack Rose. Jack was pretty quiet that night. He always seemed as though he'd been shaped by a broader, more inscrutable picture of time. Jack might as well have been Samuel Barber, Shostakovich, or Harpo Marx. He might as well have been Orpheus--if Orpheus had been made less of myth and exaggeration, as by what really shakes us up.

May the Governance shine on You Jack as You did upon us, pal.

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