October 9th, back in 2004: mid-way into her set, Eleanor McEvoy asked the audience, "Anyone know what day this is?"
From my ringside seat, I answered, "Yes...John Lennon's birthday." "Is it?" "Yes...October 9th." "Really. I didn't know that..."
The reason she asked if anyone knew the date, was so that she could segue into her song, "October 9th," which, because it's very sad and about a person gone missing, she only sings if it actually is October 9th.
While Eleanor wrote it about the disappearance of a girl, not someone assassinated, the theme of it is loss and helplessness. You can listen to it, and think of Etan Patz, of those who perished during 9/11, or other events and situations where "have you seen this person" photos appeared in newspapers or on lamp posts. And you can also listen to it and think about a loved one who was last seen in happier times, and simply does not exist anymore; not coming back from hospital, not returning home.
This is a simple, stark song about how quickly tragedy can happen...and how long it can take to heal in any way at all. In the song, her family puts up the posters describing her and when she was last seen...an act of futility dressed as hope.
After the show, I mentioned to Eleanor that home-made "last seen" signs, xeroxed with a snapshot of the missing loved one, were vivid on bus shelters and lamp posts and in store windows after 9/11, and stayed up until the rains and wind mottled and bent them, and the faces and names on them were faded and streaked.
And speaking of streaked, just a few days ago, John's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was defaced by graffiti. Nobody did a thing about it...it was up to a fan to clean it, and then search around to find some kind of chemical that could be burnished into the plaque to make it more resistant to another attack of paint and ink. Sad to say that at this point, Lennon, like Abraham Lincoln, John and Bobby (the "Dead Kennedys") and so many others are getting forgotten or even disrespected by a generation rejecting anything or anyone we've come to admire. And let's not forget all the humorous Photoshop memes that turned people jumping from the World Trade Center into Olympic divers...or how quickly people forget about children slaughtered by gunfire in Connecticut or blown up in Boston. Bring it up and ask for gun control and you get scorn. Mention the greatness of John Lennon and the eyes roll and the reply is, "There's a guy by the name of Springsteen..."
One of the nice things about having a real CD instead of a blip in your iPod, is you have the artist's complete vision, the artist's song order, and a booklet and lyrics. You also have something that can be autographed. For me, asking for singer or writer to autograph my item is a way of saying, "This is extra special to me. I will always keep it. What you've done is not just worth putting your name on, it's something you can pridefully sign as a great achievement." The autograph is reproduced here, amended a bit in tribute to John.
"Last Seen October 9th" appears on "Yola," Eleanor's first album after going indie. She's issued many more since, stubbornly insisting on the best quality recording and the best SACD reproduction of the CDs, even if most people buy inferior sounding mp3 files (which don't pay much in royalties from the download monopolies like Amazon or iTunes and almost nothing via Spotify).
I saw Eleanor recently in concert, and she is better than ever...a varied show of sad songs, upbeat songs, political songs...with often ironic and funny introductions, too. Not just a singer-songwriter with a guitar, her versatile set will include songs at the piano (she even sang a Piaf cover in French), and, Sapristi, the woman can sing and play the violin at the same time! She is the genius of Ireland's music scene, and if your collection of music includes Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, somewhere there should be a place for Eleanor McEvoy.
OCTOBER 9th Listen on line, no pop-ups, porn ads or wait time.
PS...did you know Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell were married on John's birthday last year? So romantic...