Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows I follow the obituaries. It sounds like the morbid curiosity of a person well past the middle year of his life, but I've actually read them since I was a kid. I distinctly remember talking to my brother about the idea of casting Richard Kiel and Ted Cassidy together as brother private detectives with a good cop/bad cop vibe, only to have my brother tell me Ted Cassidy had died. It really bothered me not knowing that.
This week, there has been at least one obit a day of someone whose work I knew. The race car driver and designer Carroll Shelby died this weekend. He is responsible for the Shelby Cobra, definitely in the running for the sexiest two seater ever to hit the road.
This is, of course, in the fine American tradition of putting an entirely too big engine in as small a car as possible.
The hits these guys played on are too many to mention, but whenever I think of them, the first melody in my mind is the seminal instrumental Time Is Tight. Here is a link to a great article about the song and if you want to listen to it, here it is on YouTube.
Once someone tells you the drum sounds like a person panting during sex, it's hard to hear anything else. But listen to when Dunn and Cropper are playing in unison. You don't have to be smoking dope to get completely entranced in how close they are, trying pick the notes apart, the bass from the guitar. Their time is incredibly tight.
And then there's Horst Faas, who died on Thursday. He was a photojournalist. His best known work comes from Vietnam. He didn't take the picture of the police chief shooting the guy in the head; that was Eddie Adams' work. He has some violent images, but a lot of his stuff is more lyrical. This picture is from an early morning with a mixed squad of American and South Vietnamese forces, up all night waiting for an attack that didn't come. There are collections of his work on several websites right now, including NPR and The New York Times.
I hadn't heard his name before he died, and that's my bad. He was stunningly good.
I'd like to say this is NOT one of those Group of Threes so many people like to think are true when people die. A whole lot of well known people have died this month: NFL Hall Of Famer Junior Seau, MCA of the Beastie Boys, Maurice Sendak, George Lindsey (played Goober on Andy Griffith), bandleader Mort Lindsey (no relation) from The Merv Griffin Show and earlier than that Judy Garland's musical director, hairdresser Vidal Sassoon and Nicholas Katzenbach, advisor to JFK and LBJ. That's ten in as many days, and there are actually others on the Times obit page of whom I had some knowledge.
As someone who follows obits, that is a quite a streak. Weeks can go by without anyone dying whose claim to fame I know before reading the obit. Whoever is in charge of killing famous people, please pace yourself. There's no need to showboat like this.
Best wishes to the families and friends of Carroll Shelby, Donald "Duck" Dunn and Horst Faas, from a fan.