Friday, October 30, 2009

Learning Lenny

Stevie Ray Vaughn is known as one of the most accomplished electric blues musicians ever to have come from the United States and certainly from the great state of Texas. He was the original John Mayer as far as white American blues rockers are concerned, both of whom have shared the stage with B.B. King and Eric Clapton. Vaughn, however, seems to be a fading star on popular radio only 19 years after his untimely death. It can be argued that his one crossover hit was "Crossfire" from 1989.

The blues has rarely been a genre that has drawn my attention or interest. I simply couldn't relate to music that only ever lamented lost opportunity. Hard rocking blues a la "SRV" (Stevie Ray Vaughn) was even further away from my preferred styles of music. Vaughn's style matched his persona, hard edged, hard living and hard charging. Come to think of it you'd think it would have been right up my alley!

A recent Saturday was only the second full day of opportunity to play with my new digital camera and try new photographic techniques and styles. It would be a nice day to visit the Laurel Land Cemetery in Dallas, Texas, just south of downtown. The cemetery of choice in Dallas for glitterati is Sparkman-Hillcrest where the saying goes "Bury me at Hillcrest overlooking Nieman-Marcus (at Northpark Mall just over the eastern fence). Tom Landry, Mary Kay (Ash), Mickey Mantle and Greer Garson rest here but only one nationally recognized name lies at Laurel Land: Stevie Ray Vaughn.

The weather couldn't decide if it was going to rain or clear up into bright Autumn sunshine. In Dallas in early Fall count on getting both. The objective for the camera was "macro" photography, or the taking of very close-up shots of floral subjects - no better place than a cemetery. And I can pay my respects to Mr. Vaughn who has a unique place of honor on the grounds. The Vaughn Estate owns a small traffic island in the middle of a crossroads where Stevie and his parents rest in peace by themselves. Some biker fans were there ahead of me and, not wanting to disturb them or be disturbed myself I looked for interesting subjects to try out my fledgling camera skills.

Circling back around the bikers had gone but two 40-something guys in an SUV had beaten me to the punch. I discretely tried to find more subjects until they had departed when the most haunting thing occurred. Stevie's music started to play, a slow, gentle, lilting melody wafting through the air over his grave, teasing and tossing the balloons, flowers and leaves strewn upon his facing stone. Had the cemetery installed speakers to continually play his music and invoke his spirit? What WAS that song? The moment may have been a tad disconcerting but the song was simply gorgeous.

It was "Lenny," an ode to his then wife. And it was not coming from the eternal ether but the SUV. The two 40-somethings were playing it with the windows rolled down in tribute to their icon as they gazed upon his marker. The marriage ended and Stevie became yet another musician gone too soon at the age of 35 but in the strangest of ways his music lived on that day and captured a new fan in me.

The hard charging songs of his catalog remain beyond me but "Lenny" and another even more powerful musing, "Riviera Paradise" are two songs I might never have discovered otherwise.

Gotta go.

1 comment:

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