Been; gone too long…


Originally written in August of 2010.  Wishing you all peace this day…. ________________________________________________

Been; Gone Too Long

My life has been shaped almost exclusively by physical culture and by music.  Often these two paths intersect, but rarely do they weave together.   Physical culture and music are both deeply rooted in passion.  I will suggest that people who might have an interest in both, often choose one over the other since passion can rarely be divided.  Although I love music very much, when I felt I had to choose between the vintage Gretsch drum kit in my childhood basement, and the weight-set on the other side of the room, the weight-set won and my passion had an outlet that has served me far better than those drums would have.

Still, I greatly admire music and musicians; songwriters in particular.  In an inverse way, music has influenced my perspective on physical culture more than physical culture itself has.  Back in the 1970s and 80s while many of my bodybuilding friends were influenced by other bodybuilders, my workout life was more influenced by song lyrics, intensity in music, as well as the writers, pickers, drummers, and bass players who brought those songs to life.  Earlier this week we lost one – a bass player that is.  Michael Been of the band, The Call died of a heart-attack while mixing and engineering the sound for a concert of his son’s band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

Though The Call is known more as an 80’s keyboard kind of band, Michael Been’s lyrics were as important to me as oxygen and water, and when I needed them most.  Been’s songs were an undiscovered gold mine of hope for me.  Been managed to write the Golden Rule into almost every song, yet they were seamlessly non-preachy.  His lyrics have both reflected, and influenced my life in ways which have often seemed divine to me – literally.   

During the years after my divorce, I would of often find myself sitting by the ocean’s edge and reading the printed lyrics of Been’s songs as I listened to them simultaneously on my MP3 player.  It was a church with plenty of hope and no expectations.   I was repeatedly astonished at how much richness lay beneath the surface of what appeared to be simple pop songs.  I often wondered if he was writing to me, about me, to god, about god, and how he could have known both god and I so well.

In my post-divorce years Been’s lyrics taught me mindfulness above all else; a much needed lesson for me at that time.  The Call was never classified as Christian band.  This was good since I was never classified as a Christian listener.  Still, when one seeks to extract wisdom from lyrics, there are obvious themes relating to the good side of the Christian faith – the side that suggests that though we may often feel all is lost, there is hope if we are simply good to people.

Been was 60 years old when he died.

There are many things which sadden me about Been’s death.  One is that I have found no report of his death from any major news source.  A sad reminder that a man who had so much to offer the world, was largely unknown by it.  Unfortunately The Call’s best work is not available on iTunes, and only scarcely available on youtube in the form of some choppy videos with bad sound. 

If you don’t know The Call, I suggest buying the CDs Red Moon, Let The Day Begin, Modern Romans, and Been’s solo album, On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakthrough.  Through his body of work one can’t help but appreciate the evolution of this man’s heart and soul through the decades.

If I could work in Santa Clause time this evening I would crawl down every chimney in America with a copy of Red Moon, that the nation might be a better place for all the wisdom in its content.  This time two years ago it was David Foster Wallace.  This week it was Michael Been. The two most influential persons in my adult life are now gone.  Mark Cohen, you are number three; please take care of yourself.  Be well.  rc

18 responses

  1. I have never been into music that way you are but I just listened to it for enjoyment & yes, the words. Often I don’t know the name of a song or the musician because I was just listening to the words….

    I will listen to this clip later as I have a busy day ahead PLUS the hubby is asleep & I want to turn the music up so I can really hear!

    Thx for sharing Roy!

  2. It always saddens me when the world loses someone whose talents have influenced many. Those who write and perform music generally do it for the love of the art and not for notoriety. There are a great many unsung heroes in our world who will never be known by the masses, the police officers and fire fighters in our neighborhoods, those who minister to the homeless and poor…These are individuals who will be remembered by the lucky few who had the privilege of knowing their character.

    • Karen: It’s funny, nobody reads between the lines of my posts better than you. The largest part of my message was that there are many out there we don’t appreciate, from musicians to soldiers, and so-on. Thank you!

    • Karen, I agree. There are so many who gift the world with who they are and live their live and passion because they know they must; not for fame and wealth. And the riches people are the ones in the world who encounter those people and receive their gifts.

  3. I have to admit that I hardly ever listen to music. Once upon a time I used to. But I think the older I get the more I appreciate quiet. I don’t even own and Ipod or MP3 player or whatever else is the new way to listen.

  4. Wehen I heard of Michael’s death, I was shocked and incredibly sad. His music had the same effect on me that it did on you and I felt demoralized by the loss. But then something very unexpected happened. As I read the news reports and saw the memorial/condolence messages on facebook and the bands’ web sites, I felt that same sense of passionate Call community that I experienced in the 80’s. It all came rushing back, and Michael was more alive to me than he’d been in a decade, his spirit empowering me more powerfully than ever before.

    • France: Thank you for your comment. Its nice to connect with like-minded people. I have listened to noting but The Call for 6 days now. Probably will last another week or so. Will check out the Facebook page(s) now.

  5. Very sad indeed how obesity has begun to affect so many in our country (and world). There is no gender or racial discrimination to obesity. And, there is no talent or celebrity discrimination. Obesity will continue to take more and more people, no matter what. Unless we make a change that is. 😦

  6. Thank you for this post, I saw the call in S. Portland Me. in ’86 during our Coast Guard days. They were also very important to me, but I did qualify as a Christian listener even if an angry one. In The lyrics of Micheal Been I found Jesus’ own anger over hypocracy, and faithlessness.

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