Two farewells...

Two deaths of beloved people in 24 hours: Senator Edward Kennedy and Ellie Greenwich. Kennedy was a man who lived into his faith as he matured, but did so quietly and carefully. He accomplished a great deal in his 77 years and may be one of those souls who redeemed the sins of his youth by renewing his work for justice and compassion. He was a flawed leader, to be sure, but he was also humbled by his failures and learned from them, too.

I will always remember vividly listening to his eulogy for his brother Bobby. Those were grim and dark days - just months early MLK had been gunned down, too - and the war in Vietnam raged on.

Perhaps his finest moment in recent years is when he broke with the Clintons and endorsed Barrack Obama for president of the United States. Standing with his slain brother's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, he clearly showed us that the mantle of trust and hope was being passed from one generation to another. It was a brilliant and important public commitment. He will be dearly missed not only by the state of Massachusetts and those in the United States, but also by freedom and justice loving people throughout the world. I give thanks to God that Obama will deliver the eulogy...

And then there is Ellie Greenwich - not nearly as well known and certainly not nearly as publicly compassionate - but man could that girl right great pop and rock'n'roll songs! Think of the girl groups and Phil Spector's wall of sound and Ellie Greenwich was writing the tunes: "Be My Baby," "Chapel of Love," and my favorite: "Da Doo Run Run."

Think of the pop rock singer songwriters like Neil Diamond and Greenwich worked with him "Cherry, Cherry," "Solitary Man" and "Kentucy Woman." And who could forget Manfred Mann's breakthrough hit, "Do Wah Diddy?" She was a pop genius. She was involved in "Hanky Panky," "And Then He Kissed Me" and Ike and Tina Turner's classic, "River Deep, Mountain High" as well as the all-time girl group monster: "Leader of the Pack."

I love the record Laura Nyro did with Patti Labelle and the Bluebells that opened with an a capella version of "Da Doo Run, Run." And a young hot shot rock and roller named Bruce Springsteen was covering her songs while putting together his powerhouse E Street Band, too. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys called her one of America's most creative melody makers - she could nail a pop hook in seconds flat - and was an inspiration to other women artists like Carole King.

She was 68 and way too young to leave this realm... may God's blessings be on her, too.


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