The Loss Of Voice And Venue… Why Both Matter – Richie Havens, Ray Manzarek And The Universal/Gibson Amphitheatre

For my daughter J, on her stunning and unique voice and her election as Middle School President.  You amaze me!  Keep singing and always let your voice be heard!

This was a post I had started writing a while back… and for whatever reason it never got published… But clearly there were other things that needed to be said… and sadly, other things that needed to happen…

So today is the day this needed to be finished… and so it is.

Sometimes things just aren’t on OUR schedule.  Life has its own schedule… its own timeline… and the sooner we give in to that and begin to live our lives to the fullest the better we will be.

Richie Havens passed away on April 22, 2013… Yes, Earth Day.  His voice was worldly and otherworldly… It was grounded, yet it soared.  It was one of a kind… filled with politics and poetry. Richie Havens sang with reason and beauty.

We live in a world where too many singers and bands all sound the same, and a lot of that has to do with chasing the golden cup… the chalice… the trophy… Trying to capture or recapture lightning in the artificially measured success of album sales and chart toppings.  How often do our artists really and truly sing for the sake of the song?

We all need to raise our voice, stand up and sing, but when we do it from our soul and our heart and for the right reasons, the sounds will always be special and unique.  Yes, skill and talent and a G-d-given gift helps… but when the human voice is raised and full, it is a powerful thing.  If the pen is mightier than the sword, think about the power of those words when given sound and music. They can do anything.

A tune, a song, a lyric can move us to our soul… They can give us peace and joy… comfort and consoling.  They can move us to social action and revolution.

So why do we try to silence that way too often?  Fear… ignorance… the thought that music is not enough… that we need more things… more shops… more money…

The Universal Amphitheatre, as I will always call it, is due to close its doors sometime this Fall.  The sounds of silence.  Yet another venue, another place for over 6000 souls to gather and commune will be gone.  Without being dramatic, this is a tragedy.  When they take away our culture… our places to come together… a common space where people talk and mingle and bond… they take away life and humanity.

In 1972 it was open air… ten years later it was converted to a more acoustically sound, indoor space.  In 2005 it sold its naming rights to Gibson… which I am okay with… but I hold dearly to the names and ideas and notions of my youth…

And sometime in the future it will be a fricking Harry Potter ride.  Hey, I like Harry Potter… a lot… truly.  I think those books gave many, many children a love of reading… created stunning worlds… and brought magic back to the page and screen… but can’t it go somewhere else???

We cannot afford the loss of more music venues… the loss of more areas to socialize and listen to live music and be human beings…

I think about the piazzas in Italy and how people will simply come out and sit and eat and drink and be with each other.  Talk… really listen… and just be…

As brilliant as the art and sites were… the history… the depth of it all… It was those evenings that I will always remember and long for.  I cherish the down time we get to spend with family and friends.  We do not do it enough in this 24/7, internet driven, smart phone world.  And yes, it is not lost on me that I am writing this for the internet, for people to read on their lap tops and phones…

But my messenger pigeons took the day off… And none of you were reading those bird-delivered posts!

On May 20, 2013 Ray Manzarek passed on.  While I am admittedly not a huge Doors fan… I appreciate what he and the band did for music… for Rock n’ Roll.  Out of film school and spirituality, came The Doors… Drummer John Densmore says: “There wouldn’t be any Doors without Maharishi.”

And no matter what anyone might say about Jim Morrison’s antics and troubles, this was a pivotal and important band.

Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said it really well:  “The world of rock ‘n’ roll lost one of its greats with the passing of Ray Manzarek… he was instrumental in shaping one of the most influential, controversial and revolutionary groups of the ’60s.  Such memorable tracks as ‘Light My Fire’, ‘People are Strange’ and ‘Hello, I Love You’ – to name but a few – owe much to Manzarek’s innovative playing.”

In a world where music is more accessible than ever before, where there are so many bands fighting to be heard… We need to make sure we listen… really listen… and support those artists who are playing for the right reasons… The ones who are playing from their souls, for our souls… From their hearts, for our hearts… The ones who are trying to move us to a better place, or perhaps just a different place…

We need to hear the music that speaks of revolution and change… of intention, and know that music is a gift that we can both give and share… that we can actually create.

I leave you with two videos I found today… One is a song and the other is a 22 minute documentary of sorts, but both so worth your time.  They are gifts from me to you.  They will give you hope, and tears, sadness and laughter… and hopefully make you understand how love and music and art can change the world… change people… and make this world a better place.

Well… thanks to the flaws of technology I cannot get working links… so please seek out Zach Sobiech’s music video on You Tube for “Clouds”, buy the download on iTunes… and find and watch the doc called “My Last Days”.  (Hopefully that last link will work).

And lastly let us all sing out loud… and sing for the sake of the song!



Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

3 responses to “The Loss Of Voice And Venue… Why Both Matter – Richie Havens, Ray Manzarek And The Universal/Gibson Amphitheatre

  1. Thought I share the words of my brother Kevin on the passing of Ray. Kev blogs most days on day’s music and cultural connections to one of his favorite artist, Iggy Pop:

    CAN YOU STILL RECALL THE TIME HE TRIED…Just heard that sad days have found us as RAY MANZAREK died yesterday ( 5/20/13 ). Besides his great, original music with The DOORS, let’s give him credit for being one of the few musicians from his generation to acknowledge Punk, calling the LA Punk scene “as exciting as what happened in the ’60’s”.
    Ray produced most of the best music of X. And he was the only musician to try and make some serious music with IGGY at a time when The IG was at his most insane and unpredictable. Break on thru…break on thru….

  2. Kev also mentioned a great track that showcases Ray at his most melodic , Yes, The River Knows.

  3. Back before it was the Gibson, back before it even had a roof, this was the first place I ever saw the Kinks so it is very key venue for me. It is also where I, my wife and all four brothers say the complete and original Animals reunion about 20 years ago. Finally, it was the first time I saw the President speak.

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