This morning when I read that Danny passed on, I was suddenly at loss for words. Something that doesn't happen to me quite often. Sad and numb I just flipped through the message boards as the condolences pored in. Hundreds of them, all beautiful personal messages. A poster who calls himself Blue Guitar wrote a beautiful eulogy, Gina put up a lovely shrine up on her site and Dave Metcalf shared a heart warming personal memory. Those were just a few samples of what I let pass before my eyes in those first few hours of the morning, trying to make sense of my own feelings, with the help of some coffee and way to many cigarettes. When I stepped out the door to get some fresh air, the Stones popped into my head. You'd think I'd be playing Sandy over and over, but in the back of my head there was Mick blaring "I know, it's only R&R but I like it". I've always felt that was a weird song and today the why of it fell into place.
No matter what that line implies, for the average R&R fan this music isn't trite, isn't "just" Rock & Roll. Especially not for those who frequent E-Street. For that type of fan R&R is like going to church, a live show their congregation. Fans of this band see their hopes and fears reflected in the music, they relate to it on a highly personal level. The E-Street Band offers songs that are dreams to cling to when the chips our down, prayers in time of need and of course hard rocking, pants dropping, booty shaking, earth quaking Rock & Roll exorcisms. The band celebrates life with you through good times and bad. Hell, their front man was even heralded as a savior, though only of R&R. So when an apostle of this church passes on, it's personal.
Danny's romantic phrasing on "Sandy" took me to a better place when I needed one, made those pier lights and fireworks come to life, transported me to a mythical version of Asbury park. His funky organ solos on "Kitty's Back" found me slipping and sliding through my own living room more than once, to much amusement to anybody who might have been looking through the windows I'm sure. His solo to "You're Missing" tore into my heart when I needed tearing. Live in Chicago last year he really put the spirit in the night. I've never met the man, but still he was a big part to my life, or at least the soundtrack there off.
R&R tends to do that, it tends to crawl under your skin in a way no other art form can. Paintings are too much frozen scenes of life, books take too long to unravel and neither of those can be played in the background as your sound track. Jazz has too much of a distant cool, Opera I simply don't get, with R&R records three minutes is all it takes.
My heart and thoughts go out to your friends and family Dan, but first and foremost I want to thank you. Thank you for being such a big part of my sound track, thank you for some of the music that helped me bear and celebrate my life. And celebrate we will!
Rest in peace Phantom, but be sure to haunt our stereos from time to time.
Danny's passing in the NY Daily News.
The NY Times on the Phantom.
"Sideman Provided Signature Sound" form the Courier Post