Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weeping and Watching Luther Vandross

Who knows what's wrong with me at 2:53 a.m. I should be in the bed, but instead I'm up watching YouTube videos of the late Luther Vandross and tearing up. He died in 2005 and I miss him sometimes like I knew him personally.

He affected people that way. I remember talking on the phone with a friend the day after Luther passed. He said the night before he had cried and I think he said he got pretty drunk too.

Each of us had a tribute to Luther on the web. Mine is offline now as it was music, pictures, and links to stories about Luther. But his is still online, an essay.

When Luther Vandross died, I was in New Jersey about 20 minutes from the hospital where he had been treated for kidney failure. I heard the announcement on the news and had to sit down. We'd been hearing that he was in the hospital, but I'd hoped he would come through it even though his friends seemed to be preparing for his death.

O.K., I'm a little less weepy and moved onto sleepy. Before I go, I'm posting three Luther Vandross songs/music videos.

"A House is Not a Home" live at the 1987 NAACP Image Awards. There's a story behind this song. The camera frequently goes back to Dionne Warwick because she received an award that night and had a hit record singing this Burt Bacharach song. Also, she and Luther were good friends.

An early version of "Superstar" performed live.

Finally, "Dance With My Father," a song that makes me cry pretty much anytime I hear it. The video moreso because it was made while he was in the hospital and celebrities participated to pay him tribute.

He was such a giant in the industry that other singers would call his producer and manager when they were considering recording a song. They'd ask, "Is Luther going to do this?" If they heard he'd planned to record the song, they'd drop it.

Other singers figured it was a waste of time to record anything that Luther recorded because he made each song his own and nobody could touch him. The radio stations would play his version and the other singer's version would be buried. It wasn't an underhanded tactic on Luther's part. It was just the way life was. People prefered Luther for ballads in particular.

Oh, wait! I have to add one more, a favorite. Luther Vandross and the late Gregory Hines together singing "There's Nothing Better than Love." Hines was known mostly as a dancer and actor. People would forget he could also sing.


Revvy Rev said...

I miss Luther very much as well. He was a giant in the industry, a musical genius, and from what I hear, a great person as well. I think that in addition to his beautiful music he left us also a lasting message concerning the disease of diabetes. I hope that we can fight on against this disease, inspired by Luther's memorable life.

Vérité Parlant said...

You are right on, Rev, to mention the fight against diabetes. Thanks for the visit.

Marvalus said...

I sit here crying at these Luther videos because I miss him so really did feel like losing a part of my family when he passed. And that day, July 1, 2005, I will always remember my aunt calling me to tell me the news and me collapsing on the floor.

What a beautiful soul...what a beautiful, how I miss him.

Vérité Parlant said...

Okay, Marvalus, now I'm weepy again after reading what you said. What was it about him that touched people this way? I think you're right, he was a beautiful soul.