I was blindsided yesterday afternoon when I heard about the apparent suicide of Keith Emerson, one of rock’s greatest keyboardists, and possibly primus inter pares based on seniority and innovation. With the Nice, and most notably with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Emerson’s combination of showmanship and technical skill earned him a reputation as the “Hendrix of the keyboards”, and his early adoption of Moog synthesizers and their capabilities made him a technological pioneer as well.
I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Emerson perform twice, both times at the same shed in Cincinnati. Both of his performances were breathtaking (although he may have been slightly upstaged at the first show by the drummer, the late, great Cozy Powell), and he played with evident joy and passion.
And now, I find myself wondering if that may have led to his death. Reports indicate that Mr. Emerson had been suffering from depression, in turn stemming from a neurological problem specifically afflicting his right hand, and that he could no longer use all his fingers to play. I mentioned that to Mrs. M, and said, “If he couldn’t play anymore, and that’s what he had done all his life, I can see how it happened.”
“But he still had money, didn’t he?”
“Well, he had a home in Santa Monica, so he was probably doing all right. But think about the musicians you know — or even sort-of-musicians like me. How many of us seem to care about the money?” It’s not only something you do — in some very important ways, it’s who or what you are, and I can only suspect for someone like Mr. Emerson, that’s true even beyond my imagining. And then to have that taken away? I disagree with the response, but I can see how it might happen.
And as I think about this, I think about Neil Peart, who has gone into at least semi-retirement as the drummer for Rush. Of course, Peart went through tragedies that would break a lot of people, losing his daughter and wife in the space of a year, and perhaps that has allowed him to approach leaving music with greater equanimity. But I’m glad we still have Mr. Peart, even as I’m sorry we’ve lost Mr. Emerson.
So long, Keith. Thanks for the music.
On a much cheerier note, the Spawn and I went to Real City on Wednesday and watched Zootopia. It’s a great deal of fun, and I recommend it. It’s a movie that kids will enjoy, but that offers entertainment for adults as well. It’s a buddy-cop movie, with elements of 48 Hrs. and several other aspects of the genre, and although I figured out the whodunit aspect well in advance of the climax, it was still nicely handled.
It’s also interesting in that it deals with race issues, but not in a direct, 1:1 correspondence. In the world of Zootopia, the two basic categories are predators and prey, with the latter making up 90% of the population. There are general stereotypes about both groups, but there are also stereotypes and prejudices toward individual species as well. The film addresses these issues, but generally without being overly heavy-handed. What’s important, though, is that the movie is entertaining and funny. It was a good time.
This week has been Mondoville’s spring break, and a good thing, too, as the next few weeks look a bit busy. Next Saturday, I’ll be helping with an admissions event, with a Berries show in Real City that night. On the 30th, I’ll be taking part in a roundtable discussion of crime writing in our campus theater, with my departmental colleagues and fellow crime writers David Rachels and John Carenen, and on 3 April, I’ll be in the burbs of Atlanta, reading as part of the Noir @ the Bar series. I’d love to see you at any or all of these things. Give me a holler!
And what would a potpourri post be without some music? This track is from ELP’s Love Beach album, which caught a great deal of flak (much of which was admittedly deserved; it’s not a great album). Still, it has its moments, and for me, this is one of them. From the side-long “Memoirs of an Officer and a Gentleman” suite, this is “Love at First Sight”, and that’s pretty much how I felt about the piano part. Thanks, Mr. Emerson, and I hope you’ve found the peace you lacked.