December 27, 2007
Cycles of loss can be very beautiful. Secrets are revealed. Details previously obscured suddenly show us a fresh view of something we thought we knew well. These trees down the road from my house boast a level of magnificent intricacy I couldn’t have seen a few months ago. Winter, and what it takes with it, can be enlightening.
And it can be harsh and painful. And inexplicable and unfair. As solstice began last week, one of my very close friends died. Dan Morris couldn’t have been more than 40, and those four decades had spent themselves creating a brilliant person with immense talent and a huge heart. If only they had created better kidneys for him, while they were at it. A phenomenal musician with an otherworldly sensitivity, he was not only a percussionist and a composer, but a visual artist. His love for birds, action figures, his wife Marie, and sushi knew few bounds. And he was the most generous, wry witted friend one could ever hope for.
We take the artifacts of our daily lives for granted and sometimes barely notice the items that fill our spaces over time. As Dan lay in a coma 1200 miles south of me, my eyes kept stubbing themselves on small things that have lived in my studio over the years. The teal ceramic Turkish dumbek he gave me and taught me so patiently to play. The pastel he drew of one of his seven parrots. His Tranzport remote that allows me to record live in another room while single-handing my sequencer. The myriad of tiny action figure muses he gifted me with to inspire fearless creativity. The stack of Fripp and Eno CDs we both loved that I kept meaning to return to him.
The magnificent intricacy of my friend was constantly unfolding, season after season. In his permanent absence, I’ll continue to see and to discover. And to smile. I’m convinced that a person’s legacy is in the memories he leaves with the survivors who loved him.
One of Dan’s last, amazing recordings graces my new CD. You can hear a small excerpt of him joyously playing a slew of different drums from around the world on the first track, Slipping, above. I know that he would be far more pleased to have his remembrance on my little blog accompanied by this silly piece than with some serious elegy.
Winter, and what it takes with it. The cycle of loss is unavoidable. It’s up to me to find the beauty in it, somewhere.