I read this morning that Dewey Martin, drummer extraordinaire with Buffalo Springfield, was found dead in his California apartment. A few years ago, Bruce Palmer (bass player) left this realm, too. For the oldsters among us, Buffalo Springfield was the quintessential North American band of the 60s: they did country and soul, they did rock and poetry, they were angry and hope-filled, they were American and Canadian - and they had the sweetest harmonies of any band around.
Like the Byrds - who also mined some of the same ground of genre-blending sounds - Buffalo Springfield gave us Neil Young and Steven Stills as well as Richie Furray (who later gave birth to Poco) and paved the way for folks like the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt to rock on with banjos as well as electric guitars. (My favorite tune, "Rock and Roll Woman" - above - gets it all together in under 3 minutes!) Check out their costumes - dig those harmonies - and then that smokin' nasty guitar break that ends with a harmonic chime. Damn, I miss those guys!)
Most folks know the Springfield from their classic, "For What It's Worth," (check out David Crosby from the Byrds playing with the band here from Monterey, 1967.) It became a mantra as the Vietnam War dragged on... and then the band ended and CSN&Y were born on the eve of Woodstock.
Certain musicians have touched my heart - and shaped my prayers - and Dewey Martin and Buffalo Springfield were right up there. I used to go to sleep listening to Dewey sing his blue eyed soul on their second album with the Memphis Horns behind him - he was so funky - he gave this white boy hope! Rest in peace, brother, and many, many thanks.
A prayer from the funeral liturgy of my tradition says:
O God, whose days are without end and whose mercies cannot be counted, awaken us to the shortness and uncertainty of human life.
By your Holy Spirit, lead us in faithfulness all our days.
That when we have served you in our generation,
we may be gathered with those who have gone before,
having the testimony of a good conscience,
in the communion of your holy family,
in the confidence of a certain faith,
in the comfort of a saving hope,
in favor with you, our God, and at perfect peace with the world;
through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.
PS: I was just reminded that it was 45 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play - or more precisely that the Beatles, who would later morph into Sgt. Pepper - arrived in the USA to play the Ed Sullivan Show. That was Pentecost for me - and the first creation story, too - where the Spirit of the Living God blew across the chaos of my life and filled me with hope, focus and the spirit of rock and roll! It changed my life. Another aspect of rock and roll serendipity as we bid farewell to Dewey. It made me think of this... these cats STILL make me crazy!
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