He died running, he fell beside the square, to the street where, many years before he had begun to sing, he fell in the fullest expression of vanity and discipline. Many of us, in our songs, had touched on the type of man that he became. Dylan raised up such a ragged hero many times before he turned to solace in the shadow of American Christianity. Joni Mitchell had spoken simply of that constant ambiguous lover, spoken of him over and over, before she entered the beautiful technology of jazz and virtuosity. Kris Kristofferson had described that gambler playing his way from Nashville to Hollywood, where finally the dangers of the game were too coarse for poetry. David Blue was the peer of any singer in this country, and he knew it, and he coveted their audiences and their power, he claimed them as his rightful due. And when he could not have them, his disappointment became so dazzling, his greed assumed such purity, his appetite such honesty, and he stretched his arm so wide, that we were all able to recognize ourselves, and we fell in love with him. And as we grew older, as something in the public realm corrupted itself into irrelevance, the integrity of his ambition, the integrity of his failure, became, for those who knew him,increasingly important and appealing, and he moved swiftly, with effortless intimacy into the private life of anyone who recognized him, and our private lives became for him the theaters that no one would book for him, and he sang for us in hotel rooms and kitchens, and he became that poet and that gambler, and he established a defiant style to revive those soiled archetypes. In the last few years, something happened to his voice and his guitar, something very deep and sweet entered, his timing became immaculate and we knew that we were listening to one of the finest, one of the few men singing in America and I was happy then and perhaps happier now to say that I told him that. He did not put away his cowboy boots. He did not take a part-time job, he was fully employed in his defiance and his originality and his faithfulness to a ground, a style, an image of which he himself was the last and best champion exponent, a style that many of us had wanted, courted, and had not won.And finally, toward the end of his short and graceful life, he had the grace to recognize the woman to whom he had always been singing, and he courted and married Nesya and because a woman of talent and beauty does not choose lightly, she made manifest for all to plainly see the qualities of love and generosity that he had forced out of his distress. The death of such a man unifies us, and recalls to us how precious we are to one another.
Accessed at Steve Hoffman Music Forums.
David Blue: David Blue (born Stuart David Cohen) was part of the 1960s Greenwich Village music scene along with Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton… In addition, he was an actor and, in fact, played the role of Leonard in The Leonard Cohen Show during the 1979-1980 season at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. He also wrote Troubadour Song about Leonard Cohen and Marianne about his love affair with Marianne of So Long, Marianne.
I loved Marianne in the winter
In the loft of her favorite lover
She was growing older
The winter nights were cold
She told me I’m frightened
I said yes I know…
I knew her from another song
Her older poet wrote before
We played it in the morning laughing on the floor
Till he came knocking on the lower East Side door
Blue died of a heart attack in December 1982 at the age of 41, while jogging in Washington Square Park in New York City. More information about David Blue is available at An Illustrated Biography of David Blue.