Monday, August 22, 2011
We Will Miss You Nick Ashford
Almost every Saturday, I would play 8-tracks and records when I was a child. Oh and please understand that I had a routine AND a setlist. My Saturday performances would start off with Ashford & Simpson's Send It on 8-track (that's right, 8 track) then segue into a Gladys Knight & the Pips 8-track Touch, George Benson's Give Me the Night, into the Flashdance soundtrack and then Off the Wall as the finale- where I would unfold the Off the Wall LP and dance with Michael Jackson during "It's the Falling In Love". Maybe I had cabaret aspirations. Who knows? The fact was music has always and will always be a great part of my life. So when I heard that Nick Ashford of Ashford & Simpson passed away today, I went back to those Saturday afternoons in my mind and thanks to Spotify (no one knows where that 8 track is) I got to relive their Send It album. It's been 30 plus years since I had heard it and I still know almost every bassline and inflection. I remember the strings and the perfect combination of Nick and Val's voices. They were contributing instruments all unto themselves.
I take it particularly hard when an R&B legend dies because of the state of our music today. Ashford & Simpson had a "crazy pen game" (I got that from my music friends. Basically they were incredible songwriters), who were often duplicated and sampled.
They were some of the last of the great originals who wrote the soundtracks to our lives back when The Song was really what mattered. It seems we have no one to carry the torch now. Even some albums that people would call classics nowadays hearken back to the days of Motown so while they are pleasant to listen to they are far from original. Music is in a sad state, desperately needing some original creativity and has been for some time. We need to get back to The Song.
Along with my feelings of nostalgia, I also feel sad for Valerie Simpson much like I was sad for Ruby Dee and Paul McCartney when they lost their spouses to whom they always seemed to be joined at the hip. It's one thing to be married to someone but to create art with someone and for your name to be synonymous with theirs as a historical figure is something else. From writing hit songs together to performing together to running the Sugar Bar in NYC, they were indeed one. I can't imagine what she is going through right now so let's some love and prayers her way, shall we?
Here's to a great songwriter, incomparable voice and one half of a "Solid" history making duo, Nick Ashford. You are truly missed.
Other Ashford & Simpson penned hits:
And of course...