Lon Chaney Jr. (1906) – You know they’re remaking your Wolfman film. Yessir, they’ve got that Benicio Del Toro playing your part. From what I’ve read, they said you set a standard, your face was wolfish already, and they’ve decided to use as much stop action transformations as possible to take Benicio from man to wolf. They were right about one thing: you set a standard. And every werewolf from Michael Landon to Michael Sheen has tried to bridge the gap between man and beast as authentically as you. Cheers for evolving a story of de-evolution!
Roberta Flack (1937) – I’ve said it multiple times before, and I’ll say it multiple times again: you are the most underrated female soul artist in music history. And that’s saying a lot from someone who swears by Gladys Knight and the Pips’ Imagination. But I’ve spent several late nights sitting up in the near dark spinning your First Take, sometimes repeatedly. I’m not sure what happened back then, if you walked in at the wrong time, if someone else beat you to the press, or if the attention of the country was somewhere else in 1969, pushing First Take into the periphery of the nation’s ear-shot, but, whatever misfortune happened, that album was overlooked as the masterpiece that it is, and you were unfortunately moved into the alcove as a peripheral artist. Maybe so at the time, but not in my home. You are greatness. You are a voice and talent to celebrate. So here’s to you, Roberta Flack, on red carpet and loud speakers, moving from the alcove to the center at last.
Cliff Burton (1962) – Since I was 13 years old, I have evolved through several different musical stages. There was the all-metal phase in junior high, the grunge stage in the early 90s, followed by the strictly Christian music phase of later high school. In college I teetered somewhere between indie rock and the Indigo Girls, finishing out my major on my dad’s Cat Stevens and classic country vinyl collection. I’ve tampered with hip hop, swing, classical, folk, Americana, and silence for years. My ears have jostled my brains these past 20 years like cerebral maracas set to the rhythm of obfuscation; however, since the first time I heard “Battery” in 1990, me and my ears and my jangled cerebral cortex always land back solid on one unwavering musical truth: Metallica. And I’m of the school that believes the best music Metallica ever created was during the Cliff Burton days. The band is still amazing. Still worth following. Metallica is still the gospel of heavy metal truth. But you were the fury of Metallica, the gory fuzz on their bitter edges, and when you left us in ’86 so did their dissonance and their blood raw intensity. It’s been near balladry, wrapped in the rabble of James and Lars licking their bus crash blues, ever since Ride the Lightning. Listen, here’s to you Cliff Burton, and the greatness that was pre-Newsted Metallica. This new Robert Trujillo sounds promising, but you were brutal. Thanks for the whiplash, and the “Whiplash”. I’ve got Master of Puppets spinning this morning in your honor.