Tuesday, August 18, 2009

and another musical light flickers out....

I can't quite explain why I feel so sad about the death of Willy DeVille, who passed away of pancreatic cancer at the age of 58. If you don't know who he is (like me, you may have missed the defining acts and a couple of the future legends who played at CBGB's circa 1978), or think you're unfamiliar with his music, you may be wrong about that.

If you're a fan of Mickey Rourke, you may recall one of his earliest movies, The Pope of Greenwich Village. One of my favorite scenes in that movie - in a film full of favorite scenes and memorable dialog - shows two characters, Charlie and Diane, enjoying a balmy summer night in a New York City park, dancing lovingly in each other's arms to the soft alluring music coming from the local band playing nearby, who was none other than Mink DeVille featuring Willy. They played "Just to Walk that Little Girl Home" and as I watched the scene for the first time - and every time ever since - it struck me as such a gorgeous, simple, sweet little melody full of desire and love.

It's possibly the perfect combination of piano, accordian, guitar, violin, harmony and lyrics. As a woman, you want to be the woman in the song because she sounds confident, loving, and approachable. As a listener, you want the guy singing to "get the girl" and walk off into the night, arm and arm with the woman he loves.

Skip ahead a few years. The Princess Bride? A little film that may just be a touchstone for a generation? While Mark Knopfler may have performed the song that has become synonymous with ROUS's, six-fingered men, vengeful Spaniards, vile Sicilians and kind-hearted giants - and oh yes, true love - Storybook Love, the title song was another of Willy DeVille's masterpieces. Who doesn't love this song??? Who doesn't find himself or herself at least humming along, at least during the chorus???

I know. This post makes me sound like the least committed fan ever since I have almost no reference points beyond DeVille's music in films. No, I don't own his catalog and I can't claim I danced to his punk songs in the late '70s. If that prevents me from being a true DeVille fan, so be it.

His music brought me joy. Isn't that enough?

Somehow, my sense of the man and his music is that everyone is welcome, that all that mattered were the songs. That he never missed nor craved the enormous fame and everything that accompanied it; the kind of fame that found its way to contemporaries of his during his lifetime.

Just weeks after the world nearly stopped on its axis to mark the death of Michael Jackson, we have another extremely talented musician leave us with barely a minor chord struck in the media. So celebrate DeVille's life and work more quietly. Listen to "Storybook Love" or "Just to Walk That Little Girl Home" and sway in the dark with someone you love tonight. Now that's a real tribute.

55 comments:

SisterSue said...

That was a lovely tribute Renee. Especially from someone who was not familiar with Willy. I have been a huge and enduring fan for about 25 years so I am the other end of the spectrum. Much is written about Willy's older work but he has been prolific with writing, recording and performing through the end.

I encourage you to check out some later work. The CD "Backstreets of Desire" is one of my favorites. I have also seen Willy perform many many many times. He is a powerhouse. Here is a terrific video of him performing "New Orleans". Written by Gary US Bonds and performed by Willy DeVille and his mile long legs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7VRLMWBoWo

And to soothe the sadness for you, here is a 2002 performance of a song he wrote, "Heaven Stood Still".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioxeqbQCvMo&feature=fvw

I am sorry that you are sad. Unfortunately I am not sad... I am devastated. I can't believe that I will never see him perform again. In fact I cannot bring myself to play his 2008 CD, "Pistola". It was not supposed to be his last one... just his latest.

renee said...

Hi SS -
My deepest sympathy on your loss - I know how it feels to be deeply connected to an artist and your pain at this news is completely understandable.

Thank you for the links; I'll definitely check them out and pick up a CD or two. I played a couple of You Tube clips for one of my sons last night (he plays in a band) and suggested that they cover some Mink DeVille. They band is eclectic to say the least and he seemed open to it.

I hope you enjoy his music again when you can - and feel the moods and emotions all over again. That has to be the best tribute any of us can offer, right?

Thanks again for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Renee, thanks for taking a moment to remember Willy DeVille, one of my all-time favorite musicians. About "Storybook Love," DeVille not only wrote that song, he sang it. What you hear in the movie is Willy's deep-stained voice.

You mentioned his "Just to Walk that Little Girl Home" in the Mickey Rourke movie "Pope of Greenwich Village." Here's a footnote from DeVille's career: Mickey Rourke was a big fan of Mink DeVille. DeVille acts in two Mickey Rourke films, "Homeboy" (1988) and "Bullet" (1996).

Here is a video that shows DeVille's mastery as a stage performer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaqtLPh65dY

This song shows DeVille's tender side:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ8I8QvRfjc&feature=related

SisterSue said...

Thank you for your sympathy and understanding Renee. I doubt that many people can understand the depth of my pain. I have simply been telling people that someone I care for deeply has died. They just wouldn't get it.

Don't worry, as I have every single day for 25 years I play something by Willy DeVille. With well over 200 of his songs in my collection there is constant variety. It's just "Pistola" that I can't play. It wasn't supposed to be his last. He had so many plans in the works...

I reread your touching and thoughtful post. I am quite amazed that you managed to get such a good feel for him with such limited exposure. Yes, he was always in it for the music, not the money. He has done some just beautiful interviews. An interview with him is more of a conversation. He loves to chat with the interviewer and ask them questions/opinions too.

So here is a link to part of an interview in which he addresses exactly what you mentioned. How he writes, why he writes. How important all aspects of music are to him. The entire interview is terrific too.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=22113198&postID=8351397713840007881

Would love to hear your son's band cover a Willy DeVille or Mink DeVille song. This is the first song I ever heard by him. Was immediately hooked. I lived in LA and saw him perform a week later. From then on I made sure to see him often, flying to New York if he hadn't been to LA for a while. I have seen him in this club, around this time frame... wearing this suit. Who knows, maybe I'm in the audience. Thanks again for your understanding and concern. Enjoy!

"This Must Be The Night" written and performed by Willy DeVille http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NlMhB2xzYM

renee said...

Hi -

Thanks so much for your note and the links. I can't believe I didn't remember him singing in TPB - of course it couldn't be anyone but him.

Sending my sympathy to you as you mourn his passing and hope you take some comfort from his leagcy of song.

renee said...

SS -

I can't thank you enough for sharing more and your kind words. All I can say about my thoughts on Willy is that he felt like the real thing to me - the genuine artist who sings from a place even deeper than his soul. It seems there are so few of them around these days. Graham Parker comes to mind...a few others maybe.

Thanks for the interview clip and suggested cover for the band - I'll take a look tonight!

renee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie said...

I really liked this tribute to Willy. So many articles call him "punk" and only have a slight memory of his time with Mink DeVille when Willy was so much more. I've been a big fan since about 1972 and was fortunate enough to see him twice, which sounds like little but given that a great deal of his time was spent in Europe, was a very special time. He was the very best! I've never felt this way about another artist, nor flown more than 12 hours from Hawaii just to see them for two hours as I did for Willy. He was a true original, blessed with so much talent, personality and charisma, and his passing leaves a huge hole in my heart that no one else could ever fill! God bless you, Willy. Always in my heart!!

renee said...

Hi Leslie -
Thank you so much for your comment. You have my condolences on your loss.

Given what I've heard today, I really regret I never followed up my initial pleasure and interest in his music by finding him in concert somewhere.

I'll content myself with the clips people have shared and the CDs I plan to buy. I hope you take some comfort as well in the legacy Willy left behind.

Deborah said...

I think you did a great job Renee. And thank you SS. I feel much the same as you do. First time I saw Willie was 1977. I followed him around NYC as much as I could until I moved to the burbs in 95. No one in my lifetime ever captured the special pain and lonliness that is indigenous to NYC like Willy did. I too feel like I have lost a dear friend and I can't seem to get past it. I just keep playing his songs on Youtube and leaving comments. We lost someone very special.

renee said...

Hi Deborah -

Welcome...thanks for joining the discussion and sharing your connection with Willy.

The decription you gave of the NYC feeling may be what sounded so perfect to me in the 'Just to Walk...' song. It did feel painful and lonely but still so lovely and somehow hopeful, which I have to believe is an incredibly hard connection to make in a song. Felt and sounded effortless, tho, right?

Deepest sympathy - thank you again for your comment.

SisterSue said...

It is helpful to be in the company of others who are feeling this as deeply as I am. I wish we weren't meeting this way but I am glad you all are here.

I am also glad that all of us are aware that Willy was never punk. Never. Mink DeVille was the house band for 3 years at CBGB... where punk was born. So I guess people just assume rather than actually find out. Willy's strongest musical influences were Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and Edith Piaf. He went to Paris at age 20 because of the Edith Piaf influence.

There is a rare recording you all may enjoy finding. On a tribute record for Edith Piaf, Willy sings the song "The Lovers". He sings in both French and English and it is heart stopping!!! I was totally shocked when I dug up that gem at my local library. So now I have that on my iPod. For those of you who have not heard it, I've included a link so you can spend a beautiful 5 minutes with Willy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lZ7D9ddnps

I love the version of "Spanish Stroll" that Anonymous sent. It is actually the final song in the performance that I took "New Orleans" from (with NOLA being the encore). Fyi Renee, "Spanish Stroll" is Willy's signature song. NO concert was ever complete until he sang that. I can't imagine anyone ever covering that song. At least I hope not!!

Deborah, are you worried about "getting past it" or are your friends bugging you? Frankly I don't expect to get past this. It is life changing. The Immaculate Fools, who have lots of great songs for sad times, have a line in one song that goes "There's a hole in my heart where the pain gets in". There's a hole in my heart the size of a Cadillac. I will learn how to live in this new world. Somehow. Sometime. But probably very slowly and not yet. I don't plan to rush myself, no matter what friends and family try to encourage me to do.

I better get moving. How did you like the links Renee?

renee said...

Hi SS -

Well, I listened to a few clips last night as I was working - watched them, too - and one of my earliest inclinations was kind of confirmed. I had a small moment of early Bruce in the sound and the arrangements. In fact, I can imagine Bruce adding a song or two to his tour this fall in honor of Willy. Maybe they shared a night or two in NYC in the early 70s - maybe more. They seem to share the same sense of longing and personality and poetry in some of their songs.

I also heard the slightest bit of Tom Waits-ish sound - albeit much more melodic! Maybe they all intersect emotionally and musically somewhere, which isn't a bad thing.

Heaven Stood Still was astonishingly, breathtakingly beautiful. This Must be the Night and New Orleans were totally fun and made me want to dance - preferably with a crowd in a bar.

Plan to watch some others - and just look around for more clips and songs - tonight. Thank you to you and the other people here for guiding me through Willy 101! He is a treasure.

SisterSue said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Willy and his music Renee. I'm a little sad that the others have not posted... had kind of hoped that some of us who are feeling this deeply could hang out a bit.

"A treasure" Yes, I think that says it very well. Thanks again Renee for providing a place to exchange feelings about him. It has meant a lot to me.

renee said...

Hi SS -

You're very welcome. Thank you for sharing your feelings and starting the conversation with a few other people who joined the discussion.

I hope you'll continue to visit the blog from time to time. I can't promise it will always feel poetic but I can promise it is always sincere.

Take care -

SisterSue said...

Happy Birthday today Willy! In your honor I took two candles and burned them out. Burned them out.

Soon I will make a paper boat, light it and send it out.

"Your heart sings inside of me"

Love, SisterSue

renee said...

SS - I love your spirit of celebration - celebrating birthdays of people you love - or at least remembering them every year even if they can't share the day - should never end.

SisterSue said...

Hello Renee. I have a favor to ask. Some ardent fans, including myself, are putting together a Willy DeVille celebration. I am trying to get the word out. If you would write a short article, with the details in it, that would get some Google hits and some blog alerts. Just me putting the info here will be unlikely to find as much traffic as it would if you would write an article.

By the way, I did complete my private tribute. "Make a paper boat, light it and send it out...". Yep, I did that. In the mist of early morning on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin.

Anyway, if you feel so inclined it would be much appreciated.

Here are the details:

Come celebrate Willy DeVille's life and music! Sat, 10/10/09 in NYC. 3pm - Tompkins Square Park. Avenue B side.
Share stories, emotions & Willy's amazing music. Bring stories/music or simply be comforted by the company of other fans & friends.

We have RSVP's from Canada, San Francisco, Kansas City & more! Don't miss this chance to celebrate Willy's life & music with people who understand & care.

RSVP to WDcelebration@gmail.com. But feel free to come whether you RSVP or not!

If bad weather or you join us late we'll be at:
Otto's Shrunken Head
538 E 14th St
NY, NY 10009

renee said...

Hi SS -

Done!! Today's post includes your annoucement and invitation.
Sorry for the delay - been dealing with the flu - or something that feels like the flu - around here.
Enjoy the day -

SisterSue said...

Very slight change to the October 10 event.  Instead of Otto's we will go to:
Bar on A
170 Avenue A
NYC, 10009
It's much closer to the park.  So gather at the park at 3pm, mingle and then head to the bar or just meet us at the bar around 5pm!

Deborah said...

Please tell me intil what time you will be in Thompkins Park.

renee said...

Hi Deborah -

Here's a very slight change to the October 10 event from Sister Sue:

Instead of Otto's we will go to:
Bar on A
170 Avenue A
NYC, 10009
It's much closer to the park. So gather at the park at 3pm, mingle and then head to the bar or just meet us at the bar around 5pm!

Thank you for checking!

Deborah said...

thanks so much for the info. I now live in CT and have to work until 5pm. I am sooooooooo hoping I will be able to catch you guys.

Deborah said...

OMG. Thank you so much for that Nola clip. As always, Willy breaks simply my heart!

Wileygrrl said...

When I read that Willy had passed away it made me so sad for many reasons. Sad because I had not seen him perform recently, sad because he is one of many who had/has Hepatitis C and most likely the pancreatic cancer was caused by the HepC, and sad because his son is now without both parents. I was talking with one of my best friends who also has HepC about how we needed to make sure that we went to see all the artists we love before they or we pass away. I immediately bought two tickets to see Marianne Faithfull only to have the show cancelled (I am praying that she is not suffering from any illness and that we will still have a chance to see her in the near future). Hopefully there will be a more successful treatment procedure/cure for HepC in a few years as there a few drugs in trial right now that could be approved in 2011. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people who have had someone they loved taken from them by this disease.

renee said...

Hi Wileygrrl -

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the blog. Don't know where you are of course but if you can make it to NYC on Saturday, you may find some comfort in the company of friends who also loved Willy's songs and his message.

Best to you and your friend who is dealing with this illness.

Enjoy each day....
thanks again for your note.

Wileygrrl said...

Hi Renee,

I have been thinking and thinking about New York but a flight from Minneapolis at this point is pretty expensive. I don't know if you can answer a couple of questions I have? What airport is closest to where the celebration is? And, what area of the city is the celebration (will need a hotel)?

Thank you,

Wilygrrl

P.S. I was thinking about how much I loved Mink DeVille, Willy and the way he could tell a story or a get across a feeling...how I used to steal song titles like "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl" to use to name mixed tapes that would convey the gist of the selected songs on the tape.
Truly an artist with a gift, who's music can still elicit a particular feeling, memory or daydream in a "Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl".

renee said...

Hi Wileygrrl -

The park is down near City Hall and the Courthouse - Lower Manhattan. Best airport with closest access would be LaGuardia.

I know you'll be there in spirit if it turns out a trip just can't happen...

sugardeb said...

will you pls elaborate more on the connection between hep c and pancreatic cancer. I have never heard about this before. Thnx.

Wileygrrl said...

Hello Sugardeb,

Not an authority on this topic, just know what I know from dealing with a friends HepC and that they keep a watch out for pancreatic cancer because it spreads really fast and is rarely undetected in the early stages and apparently many people who have HepC actually die from pancreatic cancer before they do from the HepC.
Here is one article I found but there is plenty of info on the web regarding HepC and pancreatic cancer...
New study shows that infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) increases a person's risk for a highly fatal cancer of the biliary tree, the bile carrying pathway between the liver and pancreas. This finding is in the January issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article is also available online at Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com).

More than 4 million Americans are infected with HCV, which causes chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. However, the associations between the virus and other potentially-related cancers are less clear.

To better understand the associations between HCV and these cancers, researchers led by Hashem El-Serag of Baylor College of Medicine, conducted a retrospective cohort study of more than 718,000 U.S. veterans who were treated at Veterans Affairs medical facilities between October 1, 1988 and September 30, 2004. Among them, 146,394 were infected with HCV and 572,293 were not. Uninfected subjects were matched to infected ones by sex, age and type and date of visit.

The researchers followed the subjects for an average of 2.3 years to determine the incidence these cancers. They found that "risk for biliary tree cancer in the HCV-infected cohort, although low (4 per 100,000 person-years), was more than double that in the HCV-uninfected cohort."

The study is the first to formally examine the association between HCV and pancreatic cancer. It is also the first time a significant association has been detected between HCV and this type of cancer in a large cohort study. The findings may lead to greater examination of rare malignancies.

Wileygrrl said...

Sugardeb,

This is a great website with a very knowledgeable HepC community.

Renee,

Will you let us know if pictures from the event will be posted anywhere online.

Thank you so much.

Wileygrrl said...

I think I might have forgot to paste in the link...
http://www.medhelp.org/search?query=hepatitis+C

renee said...

Hi all -
Yes, if I find or get access to a link for photos I will definitely post it.

SS - can you help here? Do you know if the organizers have a site for the celebration Saturday?

Thanks -
R

sugardeb said...

Dear Renee,

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain the connection between pancreatic cancer and hep c. I had never heard that before. Btw, did you go to the tribute for Willy last weekend? I was heartbroken to miss it. D

renee said...

Hi SD -

The tribute is actually tomorrow and I'm still not sure of my plans. It does sound like a wonderful event.

And I was happy to help faciliatate the exchange of information here - the link you mentioned was courtesy of Wileygirl - I'm glad she could help you with that.

Take care - hope you'll visit the blog again.

Wileygrrl said...

Sister Sue and Renee,

I just wanted to let you know that I will be thinking about both of you tomorrow and wish that I could attend so I could laugh and cry with you both. I can honestly say that losing the beautiful voice and talent of Willy DeVille has left me feeling like I lost one of my own family. And, it just brings the worry for my best friend (and sister if I could pick one) right to the surface and scares the hell out of me that I will lose her too.

What you two have shared has been a great thing for me and it is so true that misery loves company and while I don't feel much better, I feel grateful that there are others that feel as deeply.

I hope the celebration will bring you comfort and please take pictures and share the day with those that cannot be there.

Love on ya,

Wileygrrl

St. Paul, MN

renee said...

Believe it or not, I'm still not sure if I can be there but I'm working on it!

Hugs and peace to all who attend -
R

sugardeb said...

Hey Wiley, so perfectly expressed!

sugardeb said...

I don't think I can make it to NYC tomorrow. My heart is with you. I look forward to pics and hearing all about it.

Anonymous said...

It is truly inspiring to come across people who are showing their love for Willy and for what he is all about. It will surely mean a lot to him.
He would never hold back his passion and devotion to music and would be like an open book to read when singing, revealing unique musical sense, intuition and immense human warmth.
Everybody who has the chance to join the celebration, have a safe trip to New York and a nice time among people who share your feelings.
Please, be so kind to take photos, maybe do some video recording to be put on youtube later, for those who cannot make it to the event.
I like the thought of having that park resounding with Willy´s music, wish I could be there…
All the best and keep up the good work!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztnujIDb50s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoGNZCFdPBc

Anonymous said...

It is truly inspiring to come across people who are showing their love for Willy and for what he is all about. It will surely mean a lot to him.
He would never hold back his passion and devotion to music and would be like an open book to read when singing, revealing unique musical sense, intuition and immense human warmth.
Everybody who has the chance to join the celebration, have a safe trip to New York and a nice time among people who share your feelings.
Please, be so kind to take photos, maybe do some video recording to be put on youtube later, for those who cannot make it to the event.
I like the thought of having that park resounding with Willy´s music, wish I could be there…
All the best and keep up the good work!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztnujIDb50s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoGNZCFdPBc

Wileygrrl said...

Renee,

Did you make it to the celebration?

Wileygrrl

Wileygrrl said...

Something I remembered last night that I am going to share with you all.

Several years ago a very wise teacher gave me some advice regarding "heartache". He said the best thing for heartache is bittersweet or dark chocolate!

I'm sure you think I have gone right off the deep end but for whatever reason it seems to help. And if you recall back a while they even talked about chocolate being good for the heart.

I was so very sad yesterday having to miss the celebration in New York and rereading all the posts on this page and I kept thinking "why can't I get this out of my head?" "Why do I feel so sad?"

Maybe because for the fans, there was no closure like there is for family. You don't get a chance to say goodbye or see Willy one last time. He's just gone...the music, the video clips are still here and that is hard because within the music and video is some of his soul. He poured it all out and you can hear and feel it.

Well, that sounds all fine but it still didn't make me feel any better and "bang" it hit me. I remembered the heartache remedy...so I grab a dark chocolate mint from the freezer and a cig and take 10 minutes to ponder if this will help.

Who knows...power of suggestion, hope that something will help, I can't say but my heart doesn't seem to hurt as much as it did yesterday. Can't say that the horrible ache won't coming raging back but at least it has retreated a bit.

I hope the celebration in New York was a good one and a fitting one for Willy.

Cheers!

Wileygrrl said...

Sister Sue,

Just wondering how the celebration went on Saturday?

renee said...

All -

I wish I could have been there but the trip just didn't work out for me. I truly wanted to attend and be part of this.
Please post some comments if you did attend and I'll be happy to share them with the group -

Thanks very much -

Wileygrrl said...

Hi Renee,

Just wondering how you and everyone else that posted are doing. So in Minneapolis this morning there was snow on the ground (For the love of God it's only October 12). I decided I needed to pick some music for the drive to work that would help negate the cold snow winter is gonna be long feeling...so I pulled out Heat Treatment by Graham Parker. GP is another favorite that never got as much attention in the states and preceded both Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson on to the scene.

So then, I decided to google Graham Parker to see what is going on with him and low and behold he and Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople) are doing some event in New York on October 17th.

Like I mentioned...I am going to try to see every artist I possibly can before they or I go up in smoke. Gonna check on tix for this event and if I can't make it, gonna make sure both of these guys go on my list of must-see b4 I go...

On a promising note...Grant Hart of Husker Dü is putting out his first recording in 10 years this week. Can't wait to hear it. He never got the credit due him either.

Going to keep trying to find something positive to focus on.

Love to all...

renee said...

Hi Wileygrrl -

Yes,the Graham Parker / Ian Hunter event is part of the New Yorker Festival this year. Love GP - my husband and I saw him years ago when he opened for Clapton at a concert in Philadelphia - also saw him at a smallish club in lower Manhattan (can't remember the name.) It was a great show.

Sorry about that snow....time for a blanket and a cup of tea and a great movie or great book.....my favorite things about cold weather is the perfect excuse to enjoy the great indoors.

Have a wonderful week!

Wileygrrl said...

Hello Renee,

Heard anything from Sister Sue lately? Do we know if anybody took pictures or video of the Willy celebration or how it was?

renee said...

Hi -

No word on the pics or video of the celebration.
Anyone with a link or images to share - please do!
Thanks -

SisterSue said...

Apparently I am going to have to post this in two parts as it is too long.

Part 1

Hello all. My apologies for taking so long to get back here. As you can imagine, I have been just overwhelmed.

The event was incredible. There was a ton of work to be done getting ready. I mean weeks of work. It consumed my life and at times I had to wonder if it was worth it. It was.

Nina (Willy's wife) had written to me asking if she could come. I had a feeling that she would not show and she ended up deciding at the last minute not to come. That was fine. If she didn't feel it was right for her then I think she did the right thing. I only wanted two things. And I wanted them desperately. To honor Willy and to find someone... ANYONE!... to share emotions with.

We had a good turn out of fans and the bar was perfect (Bar on A at 170 Avenue A, NYC). I spent hours decorating it. Pictures of Willy everywhere. Candles. Signs. Memory book. White roses. Etc... The bar was homey with couches and was intimate and it looked great!!

We had only been going for about 15 minutes. People were eating, drinking and singing (very loudly!!!) to all the Willy songs I was playing. A man in his 30's came in, looked around and immediately became teary. It was Kevin. Willy's nephew. Kevin has lost his mother and father. Willy was everything to him. Everything.

Someone immediately introduced me to him. He grabbed me, hugged and kissed me and told me multiple times how much the family appreciated this. After he calmed down a bit I asked him if he would like to speak when I got the program going. At first he was uncertain because he is extremely emotional still. But he resolved that he wanted to speak. So I told him that we'd let people get drinks, mingle, more people arrive, then start the program.

Go on to Part 2

SisterSue said...

Part 2

I had put out a sign up sheet for audience members who wanted to speak. Quite a few signed up. So I told Kevin that I would speak first to break the ice, then he would talk so he could get it out of the way and relax and listen to the audience speakers.

When I went up to the stage to speak, Kevin got a bar stool and put it down right next to me. He would laugh, cry and comment on many of the things I said, often grabbing my arm and pulling me towards him. He made both public and private comments, which I will always treasure.

Kevin's speech, totally unprepared and from the heart, was amazing. People in the audience were literally sobbing.

The event went on for about 6 or 7 hours. Everyone in the place came up and expressed thanks for organizing the event. They all needed to acknowledge, celebrate, remember... whatever... Willy. Willy's son, Sean, showed up as well. He, Stephanie (Kevin's girlfriend) and Kevin expressed thanks many times from the family. It was very touching.

We had a memory book at the event. People wrote thoughts, emotions, and messages to Nina. I am going to send the memory book to Nina on Monday. I had to bring it home because I had not had time to write in it, my daughter (11 years old!) wanted to write in it and a few people here in Kansas City want to write in it.

Would anyone here like to contribute as well? I think it woud be awesome if you would share your thoughts, feelings, emotions, whatever you want to share. I know that Nina will treasure it. If you write something I will print it off and make sure it gets into the memory book and directly to Nina as long as you get it to me before Monday. I really really hope that you are able to do this!!!


If you do write for the Memory Book PLEASE get it to me before Monday. Do not write it here. Email it to WDcelebration@gmail.com. You can certainly post it here also if you want, but I need everything coming to one place. Please!! I am completely overwhelmed as it is!

That's the report for now. I look forward to getting your thoughts for the memory book. We all know how much Willy would appreciate us writing to Nina and letting her know our feelings for Willy and his music.

If anyone can tell me how to post pictures I will be happy to post pics of Kevin, Sean, audience, decorations, etc.

Love and Emotion to all! SisterSue

Deborah said...

Dear Sue,

Wow. I am heartbroken that I was not able to join you guys for the tribute. It sounds like the perfect way to honor our dear, Willy, who meant the same, and different, things to us all. I hope you will figure out how to post the pics, and that you will share that with those of us who were not able to be there.

Wileygrrl said...

Hello Sister Sue,

I think you can share the photos from the event on http://www.flickr.com/ or http://photobucket.com/
Photobucket is a free site, not sure about flickr.

If you have digital images you should be able to upload to your computer and follow the instructions on photobucket and then post the link to the photos.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, it has meant a great deal. And, thanks for offering to share the event as well.

Wileygrrl

SisterSue said...

Thanks Wileygrrl. I started looking at Photobucket. Have used it a lot for other things. But I'm wanting one place where we can all communicate and post the pics. I don't want to mess with two sites if I don't have to. Luckily my god-daughter, age 22 (thus she knows everything... really!) is coming over tomorrow to help me. She says that Facebook may be what I need. We shall see. I'd like to get this done asap.

Also a reminder to please send thoughts for the memory book to WDcelebration@gmail.com.

I'd love to see it continue to fill up! Write pages if you feel like it or just a few words. It will all be beautiful and appreciated!

Wileygrrl said...

Renee,

Sister Sue posted photos from the event at http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/WD-LoveandEmotion/

They are great photos and it looks like it was an excellent celebration of Willy and his music.