Not many of us knew before a few years ago that David is as gifted a prose writer as he is a songwriter. But through Clef Notes, a column he penned for The IND in 2012 and ’13, we were enthralled with his easy recollections of a life well spent. They were clever, revealing, touching, with a literary arc that swelled like a virtuoso guitar lead and gently crested into perfect dénouements.
He only wrote 10 Clef Notes for us due to his busy touring schedule, but we always pressed for more. A staff member used to tell him, “David, Clef Notes is the first draft of your memoirs. You gotta keep ’em coming!” (One of our personal faves, “Hope Springs Eternal,” is up on our home page. And here’s a link to a search-results page at theind.com where you can access all of them. Well worth the time this weekend.)
David has mostly been a home-body for the last several months as he battles a relapse of lung cancer, a disease he developed in no small part through years of playing smoky bars and nightclubs in an amazing career that has brought him around the world and brought his music to the world through artists like Irma Thomas, Solomon Burke, Joe Cocker and Etta James. Even before the relapse, David was an enthusiastic advocate of the Let’s Be Totally Clear campaign to make bars and nightclubs smoke-free, lending his face and his considerable talent to the effort.
He still makes it to the piano in the living room, but fatigue makes those sessions fleeting. We can only imagine — and we wait as children on Christmas Eve — the music he’ll create when he comes out on the other side of this exasperating little detour.
Happy birthday, David. We know Rhonda and Reuben are taking great care of you. Please file that next Clef Notes by the end of April.