B.B. King & the Promise of Longevity

One of the most joyous moments for me in live music played out at Massey Hall in Toronto in early 2001 – B.B. King came to town. He was 75 at the time and I wanted to see and hear this legendary Blues guitarist before the thrill was gone. Well the thrill kept on pleasing and the promise of longevity for B.B. King would be fulfilled fourteen years more until he passed away May 14 at age 89.

BB KingThat night in Massey Hall was unforgettable. The hall was in sway with the blues and it seemed to me that the blood that flowed within B.B. King was the music. In fact, it impressed me so much I actually wrote lyrics for a song that came to me (and has never left my head), but no one has seen, titled “The Blood (Blues, as in B.B. King)”.

Massey Hall itself is a shrine to musical longevity with 120 years of history of live music and more. I heard Arthur Rubinstein play there in 1964. He lived to age 95. In November 2014, I heard 76 year-old Gordon Lightfoot play there, which he’s done 152 times over fifty years. I think I’ll just keep showing up there every so often and rub against the walls just to ingest the longevity gene.

Watching some of the clips of B.B. King’s interviews this last week or so, I smiled at his comment, “we don’t use the R word around here” (i.e. retirement). He just kept playing until he could no longer. You can read all the eulogies to Mr. King but let the last word be from him about life, the spell…

“You know I’m free, free now baby
I’m free from your spell
Oh I’m free, free, free now
I’m free from your spell
And now that it’s all over
All I can do is wish you well”

Goodnight Lucille!

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