Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Stay Cool, Oscar...

Oscar Brown Jr. has died at age 78.

From the Washington Post

From the New York Times

I found out from these articles that Oscar Brown Jr was a social activist, but I just knew him as a great musician. I'm not sure how my father discovered him, but my father would play me his songs as a kid, and I loved them.

He could be funny with Signifyin Monkey, The Snake and Stay Cool.
And I don't think any song shows more the love between a parent and child than "Dat Dere".

He even wrote a cool song about the internet, "Cyberspace is the Place" in the early 90s!

But the best thing about his music was the music. I don't know enough about music to describe it, but the rhythm, the beat - simply the best.

Last year my father celebrated his 60th birthday, and in honor of the occasion, my brothers and I put out a book with letters from his friends and family. I also contacted Oscar Brown Jr., who very graciously wrote me back. He sent birthday greetings to my dad (who he didn't know) and even included this poem:

By Oscar Brown, Jr.

Another year
To celebrate
A day held dear
Your natal date
The anniversary
Of your birth
God granted mercy
You're on earth
Another year
Another year
Another year

Another year
A happy day
So we sincerely
Want to say
We hope you do
Have many more
Because with you
We're always for
Another year
Another year
Another year

Another year commands the rest
As up the numbers climb
Another year withstands the test
Of time

Another year
To be alive
To prove that we're
Made to survive
And are still able
Heaven's sake
To say we're grateful
Now to make
Another year
Another year
Another year

Another year
Is being X'd
By the appearance
Of the next
So as it goes
To be a ghost
Let us propose
A birthday toast
Another year
Another year

Another year

I wish I had another year to hear more of Oscar Brown Jr's creations. In the meantime, I'll keep singing them to my kids (they already know Signifyin Monkey by heart).

Thanks, Oscar.