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Dearly Departed

Monday, October 20, 2008
My girlfriend and I went to LiveWire at the Aladdin Theater on Saturday night which was, as usual, incredibly interesting and funny. Guests Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Berkeley Breathed were both fascinating to listen to, but what really stuck with me was the music.

During the first recording, the music was performed by two artists who had each recorded a song on the Dearly Departed album. As a fundraiser for maintenance on the Lone Fir Cemetery in Southeast Portland, a bunch of artists picked a person in the cemetery and told their story. There's the story of Sam Simpson, Oregon's first poet laureate, there's the story of Dr. Hawthorne, cofounder of Oregon's first mental hospital and a man who paid for the graves of many of his patients. And there's the story of Charity Lamb, who decided to end her abusive marriage with an axe (and who ended up as a patient of Dr. Hawthorne.)

The music on this album is universally excellent. The tunes are mournful yet interesting, the songs sad yet romantic. The memorialized dead have fascinating stories. There's the drunk who froze to death outside when he got locked out of his home, or the two friends who travelled to Oregon and ended up dying of pneumonia. What you don't hear a lot of are songs about the boring folks. There's no "here lies John, who died an uninteresting death after an even less interesting life." That would be a short song, I suppose.

In any event, the CD was fantastic. Yes, we purchased a copy (even though it's not technically for sale yet) but for my reader(s) out there, I highly recommend getting a copy. It's morbidly fascinating and you're supporting a good cause.

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