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Raging Pencils by
Mike "Blockhead" Stanfill
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I would dare say that most people have never heard of jazz
musician Kenny Rankin.
I honestly didn't "get" Mr. Rankin when I was introduced
to him back in 1977 by artist Sue
Ellen Brown. This was my
when I endlessly delved the darkest corners of resale shops
for out-of-print mirth, a collection that eventually blossomed
to over 500 albums. As you might imagine soft, noodly vocal
stylings were way off my aesthetic radar. The guy had the
voice of an angel but I wanted sharp political wit and dick
Besides, the guy wore an earring. The album cover of his
then most-recent work, The Kenny Rankin Album, featured a
head-shot and there, right before Zeus and everybody, glistening
prominently in his left ear, was a tiny opal stud.
He also sported a truly fruity, pre-Village People mustache.
It might have played well in pre-disco Northern California but this
was definitely not the album a manly, self-respecting Fort
Worth boy could be seen totin' about.
But the calendar changed and pages fell off. The mustache
was shaved and the earring vanished, at least from his albums
comedy LP's gathered dust rather than chuckles. Suddenly
I was ready for nuanced music, and Mr. Rankin's effervescent
"Haven't We Met" , the melancholy "'Round Midnight" or his
charmingly acapella "Always" were just what I needed. And
after my father
rendition of "This Old Man" softened the sharp
edges of my sorrow.
I'm waxing nostalgiac about Mr. Rankin today because he passed
away due to the complications of lung cancer this past
Sunday. He was 69. He left behind 13 albums and a world full
of fans. Me included. His unique talent will be missed.
Saying goodbye to Mr. Rankin with "Haven't
Extra Deluxe Confusing Bonus Fabulousness
Actually, thank god for Photoshop and
Raging Pencils salutes the
Mystery Reader of
you are, thanks for
reading my crappy
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