Living the Truth

Earl Scruggs (January 6, 1924 – March 28, 2012) | WSM’s tribute

Levon Helm (May 26, 1940 – April 19, 2012) | The Beginnings of The Band

It is my usually editorial policy to reinforce that life is for the living. However, it isn’t often that losses pile up as they did so the last several weeks. Earl Scruggs introduced me to the idea of musical virtuosity via a lucky vinyl strike at Tommy’s Polka Store on Cleveland’s West Side, sometime around 1969. This opening will soon enough lead a few years later to Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Carlie Parker, and John Coltrane. You know Scruggs is jazz, yes?

Meanwhile, I heard The Band for the first time in the fall of 1969, and in a very particular sense my elementary education in the resonant great American music of my own time had made its first wind around the circle. The gracious Dynamo Man, Jamie Cohen, had in very short order cued up The Notorious Byrd Brothers, Workingman’s Dead, Music From Big Pink, and Little Feat, and so had squared this same circle.


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