Those of us who were truly blessed to have seen B.B. in concert
can attest to the fact that there has never been anyone –
nor will there likely ever be anyone –
quite like him. I don’t recall ever felt as much love
coming from a performer as there was being shown to them.
It was like he was there to see us as much as we were to see him.
We meant as much to him as he had come to mean to us.
As large a part of our lives as he had become,
we had become his world.
He showered us in the warmth of his smile
while he basked in the glow of ours.
He shared the pain he had felt in his life,
making it easier for us to handle ours.
And when he implored us to let the good times roll,
And while there is certainly a palpable void in our lives today
that wasn’t there yesterday …
we still have his music.
I hope the memory of all of us who so deeply loved him
will be the music he continues to hear,
to turn to as we turn to his.
So B. B. …
Mr. Riley …
your majesty …
go have some fun.
You only live once, and when you’re dead
you’re nowhere near done.
You’ve got an eternity of good times ahead of you,
treasured friend and cherished brother.
And you’ve got one kick-ass band waiting for you
to take Center Stage,
and the Heavenly Angels waitin’ to
jump up and get down.
Your devotion to your calling
and to your fans
will never be forgotten.
B.B. King was hospitalized in Las Vegas due
to complications from diabetes on Monday, April 6th.
He’s eighty-nine years old.
Twenty-two years ago.
B. B. and Lucille.
No 128EB processors hooked up.
Not even a wah-wah pedal.
No autotune and this was back when Chris Brown was, like …
The guitar, in ways Mr. Riley’s muse, is merely a tool.
Ol’ B. B. is the instrument.
Music has the charms to soothe the savage beast.
They’ll embrace it, minister to it.
The blues listen to the beast, understand it, remember it all too well
and guide its way into redemptive submission.
Or kick it’s scrawny little ass.
One of the two.
Kinda depends on whatever
factor into the mix.
Not many people know the significance of that salute.
The one with the fingers of the hand split down the middle.
The one little kids would try to practice and perfect down below their desks during history lessons, down where their teacher couldn’t see it.
Little kids and pimply, painfully shy adolescent boys.
Even highly successful doctors and IT wizards and physicists in their thirties swamping convention centers dressed up like pimply, painfully shy adolescent boys you would think had outgrown Halloween years before.
Leonard Nimoy was Jewish, and at the end of the Friday night Sabbath services, a rabbi lifts both hands up with that salute, somewhere around shoulder height, spreading his arms as if to blanket the congregation under its shelter.
The version of the story I heard was that the four fingers spread into two was the Hebrew sign language of sorts for the letter “yud”. A double “yud” is the abbreviation for the word “adonai”.
It’s a symbol, of sorts, for “God”.
Differs from Mr. Nimoy’s own version of the story, but such is the nature of these types of stories.
And as the rabbi makes the gesture over the congregation he recites the “Nesiat Kapayim” over the congregation, from the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6, Verses 24 – 26 :
“… The LORD lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace.”
Hebrew for “Live long and prosper”, I would suppose.
In essence, it was not meant so much as parting words of hope but as a prayer.
Live long and prosper.
You did just that, my friend.
Maybe not long enough, and your prosperity will never equal out to the joy you brought to us.
And you shared many of those blessings with those of us who so deeply appreciated your work, your artistry and your passion.
Thank you for sharing your life with us and becoming a part of ours.
I’ve been lucky to have seen some of the greatest there ever were:
from The Dead and The Band and The Stones, Dylan and Jimi and Neil & Crazy Horse or Pearl Jam to Van Cliburn and the Russian Philharmonic at the height of the Cold War to Frank Sinatra and Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd.
Nobody can bring it quite like B. B.
People stand up ’cause they want to, ’cause they feel the need.
They’ll get up out of their wheelchairs when the feeling moves them.
And you look at B. B., and you look at every face in the crowd…
… nothing but love flowing back and forth.
With B. B. to keep you company, the worst of times don’t matter.
Without him, the best of them wouldn’t count.