For years their music was in major rotation in my truck, as I tooled the back roads of Tottori, listening to Bob's rich, deep voice as it told me tales of trees and water. Back in 2001, a few weeks after the U.S. began its systematic revenge on Afghanistan, Bob came to the 'Nog and gave a concert in which he talked as much as sang, raging against war, that most natural of unnatural things. That night he stayed at my house. We awoke to a sunny day, filling up on pancakes and coffee as he reminisced about Nanao Sakaki and Gary Snyder. It was an tremendous moment for me, since Gary was my primary motivation in coming to Japan, and here was one of his best friends sitting in my living room, playing with my son, Ken. Later 3-year old Ken amazed me when, hearing Barna Ghita's latest CD a day or so later, said, "It's Bob, Daddy!" Incredible what kids notice.
So this week, I finally had the chance to meet Bob again, though I didn't want to bring him down by telling him that his playmate Ken is over 6 years gone. He mentioned his own dead, Nanao, saying that he was sad at his passing, but that hey, every day's a birthday, every day's a funeral. Both Nanao and Ken were close as he sang out the waning lines of "雨の小りす," repeating "Yurei, Yurei." Spirits, spirits.
On the turntable: Bharna Ghita, "Water Island"
On the nighttable: Steven Heighton, "Flight Paths of the Emperor"
On the reel table: "Wild Strawberries" (Bergman, 1957)