Tuesday, December 09, 2008

RIP Odetta

I was really shocked to read about Odetta's death a few days ago. We were fortunate to see her in concert a couple of years ago. It was obvious then that she was feeling the effects of age--she wasn't able to leave the stage and come back out for an encore, so she graciously accepted our applause onstage and then launched into her encore--but her voice was strong and she was wry and witty the whole night.

Her death has got me thinking about other "living legends" of music that I've been lucky enough to see, as well as the ones I never got to see and wish I had, and the ones I would still like to see while I still have a chance. Which then got me thinking about posting about it. Which then made me say, "Oh why not?"

To make one of these lists, a performer has to have been alive and performing during my adult lifetime. No fantasies about time traveling to see Patsy Cline, Hank WIlliams or Buddy Holly. I'm limiting to my adult years to focus in on the time when I have both my own income and the ability to decide how to use it.

The "legend" part is harder to pin down. For me, I think it would include someone whose career began either before I was born (1964) or within a few years of that blessed event, whose career has continued to the present, and who is regarded as having had a significant impact on music. I think that's a workable definition for this purpose. I know it's all still relative and we could argue all day about who is or is not a "legend." But I wanted to limit the boundaries a bit so that this would not turn into laundry lists of my favorite artists.

So here we go:


Bill Monroe (who performed for free in a park down the street from our apartment a couple of years before he died. I still kick myself for not going. Keith went. I didn't. I am an idiot.)
Lily Mae Ledford
Johnny Cash
June Carter Cash
Utah Phillips


Ralph Stanley
Bob Dylan
Doc Watson
Jean Ritchie
The Holmes Brothers
Earl Scruggs
Homer Ledford


Willie Nelson
Loretta Lynn
Joan Baez
Pete Seeger
Rambling Jack Elliott
Richard and Linda Thompson

Actually, I guess I've pretty lucky overall. I have gotten to see some great performers from previous generations. My regrets list is short (although missing Bill Monroe will be such a mark of shame for me). And my still to see list is manageable as long as everyone stays in good health.

The most interesting part of doing this little exercise was dealing with my arbitrary dividing line. If I had just shifted it another decade, I could have included so many influential favorites on the seen list: John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, and of course Emmylou Harris, But then my not seen list would include both Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt. And my regrets list would have to include Townes Van Zandt.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I actually saw U. Utah Phillips in the 1980s.
Saw Dylan in the last couple years.
Saw Joan Baez in the 1990s
Have seen Seeger a number of times, going back to the 1970s.

Hey, Eddie - please do me a favor. Go to this site: http://www.deadoraliveinfo.com/dead.nsf/pages-nf/main
Click on the new name button on the top and fill in some info on Odetta (I listed Odetta as her last name, since it was a required field). There are a lot of recently deceased TV actors like Robert Prosky, Beverly Garland and Paul Benedict, but no Odetta?!

Arbitrarily, I wish I'd seen The Who, when they were still 3/4 of The Who and in Albany.