late great johnny ace

“I really wasn’t such a Johnny Ace fan”

The day started poorly, but has improved some. As happens every year, we were taken by surprise by the first cold night. Heather woke me at 5:30 to announce that the pipes had frozen. We got the water running just in time for the kids to brush their teeth before school. I have that tingly pink-around-the-edges of my field of vision thing I get when I don’t get nearly enough sleep, but I opted for coffee instead of getting back under the covers.

I have a nice fire blazing now, and have just paid a visit to the herd, which is some distance away in a pasture I don’t usually use. My boots crunched brightly as I ambled out there, and was pleased to be accompanied by Marshmallow, our most sociable tomcat. He enjoys my company, I think, and I am sure he really loves the attention he gets from the calves, who get so excited when chasing him they get into that crazy bucking and kicking sideways mode.

The WW Norton tumblr posted the Paul Simon video above today, the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. I was familiar with the song, but it never really registered. Until now.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading about Mr. Ace, or maybe because during the 1981 Central Park performance of this song Simon is accosted by a crazed fan (“I gotta talk to you, I gotta talk to you”), a heart-stopping echo of Lennon’s death, but this video clip hit me pretty hard.

And maybe there are more personal reasons, having to do with my own losses over the years–of family members and close friends. Maybe that’s what’s at the root of the sometimes over-the-top public mourning of a famous person–a JFK, a John Lennon, a Lady Di or Michael Jackson. Or even a more subdued sadness at the demise of an almost famous person … such as the late great Johnny Ace. I can’t really say. But today I think this is a great song.

 On a cold December evening
I was walking through the Christmas tide
When a stranger came up and asked me
If I’d heard John Lennon had died
And the two of us went to this bar
And we stayed to close the place
And every song we played
Was for The Late Great Johnny Ace, yeah

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