“Another one gone.”
That was the response from a fellow musician upon learning that, Vaughn, my friend and former band-mate from the ‘60s, had passed away.
The ‘60s? Say what!?
Musically, for those of us who were teenagers, it was the time of our lives… everything was possible! Led by the Beatles’ music, the British Invasion was a-happening; clothing and hair fashions changed; radio DJ’s were treated like gods; hundreds of thousands attended “Woodstock” – the infamous outdoor rock concert.
Plus, Bob Dylan (Nobel Prize winner in Literature), Janice Joplin, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Beach Boys, Supremes, CCR, The Band, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul & Mary, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, Joan Baez, Simon & Garfunkel were reflective of the phenomenal variety and musical talent of the non-British 60’s superstars.
But, eventually, reality stepped in. The 60s were over and we had life decisions to make… post-secondary education, finding a job, marriage and starting a family. Before we knew it, stardom became a fading dream in life’s rear-view mirror.
Regardless, we were forever changed. We approached our future with the same optimism for life that we had with our music.
At the Celebration of Life service for Vaughn, many moving tributes were given by his family. The minister then asked if any guest wanted to add something. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, I decided to share some of my feelings about him.
It wasn’t easy. Just saying his name brought an instant tear to my eye. So pausing a bit, I said, “I loved him, you know… all of his band-mates did.” To his wife Karen, I added that she wasn’t the only one who shared a special bond with him: she had lots of competition from all his“ brothers and sisters” in attendance. We were all fans of our soul man! It was all I could offer… still, it seemed enough.
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“I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do? They’re really saying, I love you”
– What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong https://youtu.be/CWzrABouyeE
Yet, Vaughn was a man of the present. One grandchild recounting how he encouraged her despite her lack of confidence – saying how proud he was of her achievements and values. Despite his sickness, he cared less about his own legacy and more about her self-image.
“I hear babies crying, I watch them grow,
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know”
Leaving, I felt the awesome power of joy and love that defined his life – with none of the transitory, smoky mirrors of “stardom.” Suddenly, the gift he was giving us hit home: all things must pass; but, we’re still here. If there’s any good we can do, let it be now. Keep the music going!
“I see trees of green, red roses too,
I see them bloom for me and you”
What a wonderful world? – Oh yeah… the best of times!
The Spirit of the 60’s: Dedicated to those band-mates, like Vaughn and Warren, who gave so much and asked for so little.