It has been awhile since my last broadcast: Deadlines, shows, roadwork, and, sadly, obituaries got in the way. They also had a big impact on the records that have filled the last weeks of this year: Pink Floyd‘s tribute to their late keyboard player Richard Wright; U2‘s controversial gift to everyone; Dave Grohl‘s season of rock & roll storytelling and two-and-a-half-hour club gigs, to go with his HBO series Sonic Highways and his Foo Fighters‘ companion album; the 2014 edition of Iceland Airwaves; and recent New York nights with psychedelic-blues institution Hot Tuna (marking bassist Jack Casady’s 70th birthday) and Trigger Hippy. a new country-blues, etc. collaboration with singer Joan Osborne, singer-guitarist Jackie Green (often out with Phi Lesh) and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman.
There was also my immersion in the bohemian life and creative fight of British leftist and art-rock icon Robert Wyatt, via Marcus O’Dair’s enthralling new biography, Different Every Time (Profile Books Ltd.), and the sudden passing of an idol and friend, keyboard player Ian McLagan of the Small Faces and Faces, on December 3rd. In the tribute sequence here, I included his exuberant cover of “Kustchy Rye,” the 1979 solo single by his late fellow Face, Ronnie Lane, because it was the last song I saw Mac play, in New York last June. The song’s title, loosely translated from Romany, means “good gentleman.” That was Mac, to the end.