Without death, we couldn't appreciate life. I read that somewhere recently. I don't know who said it, but I think it's true, and if it is true there's been a lot of life appreciation in this household lately. My wife, Mary Lyn Maiscott, and I have both been writing about people who died. Death, it seems, has inspired us.
Mary Lyn is a singer-songwriter. Last year she wrote a song about the horrendous shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where an emotionally disturbed man with an AR-15 murdered 21 students and teachers. "Alithia's Flowers (Children of Uvalde)" was chosen Song of the Year on Michael J. Mand's St. James Infirmary show, on OWWR, Old Westbury College Radio, on Long Island. You can listen to the podcast of that show here. Michael's heartfelt introduction begins at 2:44:30. (As I write this, there's been yet another school shooting, this time in Nashville.)
Mary Lyn's latest song, "My Cousin Sings Harmony," is about her cousin Gail Harkins, who died in 2021. It's a story song, a tale of childhood, family, rock 'n' roll, and the joy of music. (You can read more about Gail here.) I think it's one of the best things Mary Lyn has ever written—a magical composition that continues to sound fresh no matter how many times I hear it (and I've heard it a lot). Next Friday, April 7, Michael will preview "My Cousin Sings Harmony" on St. James Infirmary. You can listen live beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time or listen to the podcast the following day. The song will be available to stream and download April 13, Gail's birthday.
If you've been keeping up with this blog, then you know about my friend Sonja Wagner, an artist who died March 3. My tribute to her, "The Life of Sonja," was published in The Village Voice while she was still with us. The above video, by filmmaker Jules Bartkowski, was played at her memorial. Sonja had circles of friends within circles of friends within circles of friends. If you never had the opportunity to meet her, Jules's video will give you a sense of who she was. "Flat Foot Floogie," which you'll hear on the soundtrack, was one of the biggest hits of 1938, the year Sonja was born.
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