Friday, February 19, 2010

Blues For Hal Goldman (1954-2010)

With my dear friend Hal Goldman (right), Southern California, August 2009

After bearing up for years from the effects of a stroke, you learned about a month ago that you had cancer in its advanced stages. When you told me that you finally wanted to let go, your first thought was for me: How would I take it? Would I be angry that you’d had enough?

Of course I wasn’t angry, only bereft at the impending loss of such a friend. Your concern for me in the face of death showed me again the kind of friend you were. What else could we say but how much our friendship meant to each other?

I called you irreplaceable, and now that word hits me with full force. A friend like you simply cannot be replicated. When we were finally together in August during my visit to California, hosted for a week by our dear friends Dibakar and Rupa, you were much thinner than I’d remembered. In everything we did, we had to take account of your condition. Yet you were, as always, completely empathetic to what I had to say, and your sense of humor and roaring laugh survived the ravages of illness–as did your keen knowledge of literature, music and history. That knowledge of yours made our discussions of Kerouac and Hemingway, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters a pure joy.

If there’s such a thing as a soul and such a place as heaven, I hope that the grounds crew doesn’t try to outfit you with a harp. Such celestial music could never speak to you. A blues harp would be fine, but not a stringed one. Let there be a blues joint up there exactly like the one in the video below, where you can hear your old favorite, Howlin’ Wolf, speak about the meaning of the blues, then sing the blues with his growl and bite, then close with the statement, “We’re talking about the life of a human being. How they live.” I’m talking about the life of one human being and how he lived, and how he died: my blues brother, my irreplaceable friend Hal. Let Howlin’ Wolf sing the blues, my blues, for you:


Anonymous said...

This is beautiful, Dad. You were a wonderful friend to him. I have no doubt that Hal knew how important your friendship was, and how dearly you valued him. However, whether or not there is a heaven or a soul for him to travel to, he will always remain with you. Love you Dad,

Dr. Paula said...

I was crying yesterday but I'm smiling today. Beautiful, Jeff, beautiful.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute, Jeff. You were the closest friend, family, well-wisher Hal ever had. Rupa & I consider ourselves fortunate to have seen and visited Hal in his last days. Last we saw him was three days before he died. He was wonderfully calm, with a sense of humor, though we also could sense that he had given up any will to continue living. Wherever he is, may he be happy and joyful. May all be happy. -- Dibakar

Jeff Tone said...

Thank you, Dibakar, for your kind words and for all that you and Rupa did for Hal. You were wonderful hosts for Hal, and for me, during the summer. Hal had a chance to travel around with us, something he hadn't done in years. I am deeply grateful that you had him over for Thanksgiving and that you visited him repeatedly in his last months. Both of you provided tremendous comfort to Hal and to all who cared about him.

Michael said...

I was so bogged down with personal matters that I just read your post on the passing of your great friend, Hal Goldman. Through you I felt I knew him well, so I, too, feel a sense of loss. You truly had a special friendship so that precious memories and the love of your family and friends be a source of comfort during these most difficult times. I would like to offer a tribute to your friendship on my radio show this week. Please offer some musical ideas.

Jeff Tone said...

Many thanks, Paula. I know that your friendship meant a great deal to Hal.

Jeff Tone said...

Michael, I appreciate your empathetic words and your wonderful offer. I sometimes spoke to Hal about your outstanding musical collection, and I know that you two would have been friends. Hal, as is clear, was also a blues afcionado, and, like you, was quite knowledgeable about rock.

I will speak to you about Hal's favorite musicians and bands for your show. Please note that there is now a link to your show, St. James Infirmary, on my blog under the "Audio" listings.

Anonymous said...


This is a beautiful tribute. Yes, Hal impacted us all deeply and permanently and you were the ultimate example of a true friend with him. You were our leader when we did not know where he was.
But he in his own way was our leader, too. For it was the pull of his personality which never allowed any of us to forget him. It was uniqueness of Hal himself which never allowed him to become less than everything to us.

Thank you for this beautiful Kaddish. He was a man. He was Hal.


Jeff Tone said...

Thank you, Davin. It meant a lot to Hal when you flew out to see him and to let him know that he was everything to us. That was your beautiful tribute.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, this is a beautiful tribute to Hal. He was very lucky to have a friend like you. Your visit to him before he died was a blessing. He died peacefully knowing that he was loved.

Your sister, Sheree

Jeff Tone said...

Thank you, Sheree, for your comforting words. I'm lucky to have a sister like you.