Friday, March 11, 2005

MSC: Losing again . . .

This evening while stumbling through an unusually inane New York Times (for instance, two attacks on rappers: one, the most trivial opinion piece i've ever seen in the Times, barking up the rapper's tree on grammar and spelling, puhleeze; and two, a lame piece on internecine shootings as PR stunts, puhleeze squared).

Then i came on the most stunning news of the day for me, and odd to find it in the NYT -- the death of Chris Ledoux. It's an event that a whole lot of folks will not even notice, but in his passing we lost one of the toughest men around and also one of the most sublime pop poets.

Ledoux has enjoyed wide renown only since Garth Brooks made him a folk-hero in one of his songs. By then Ledoux had already put out some 20 "albums" -- cassette tapes that he gave to friends and sold from his pickup while picking in the parking lot villages that follow the rodeo circuit. Once people knew who he was, and what he wrote, he blossomed into a million seller with 36 albums now on his resume.

Among the hardcore country singer/songwriters of my time i count Ledoux as the only poet.

Ledoux's first love was rodeo of the toughest kind. Bullriders get the big play because bulls are huge, look nasty and can put a beer can sized hole in you AFTER they've put you on the ground. But old time rodeo pros will tell you the most debilitating rodeo event is bucking horses. They literally beat the snot out of you. That's the biggest part of the reason there are so many fewer bronc riders than bull riders (plus the rockstar status and big money in bulls).

Ledoux was the 1976 World Champion bareback bronc rider, so his first dose of respect was well earned.

But he also had a finely tuned sense of reading the people around him and weaving their stories into the kind of melodies that stick for a long time. Although i take issue with some of his more rednecky renderings, for the most part he was a gentle soul with a perfect eye.

He died a couple of days ago from liver cancer. It's a loss, for all of us.

New York Times Obituary


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