October 27, 2004
Boys Don't Cry

When I heard about it yesterday, the death of John Peel came as a shock. I was taken aback at the loss, gutted as so many people have put it.

Looking down at my iPod, I knew it had hours of his programs ripped to it, but I also knew that if I gave in and started listening to some of them I'd become more of a wreck than I immediately felt, unable to get even a minimal amount of work done. So I proceeded apace, somewhat damp eyed but keeping it together. Periodically I'd dip into the news postings, the Peel list, and Barbelith, looking for a bit of community to hang my sad hat with.

Today I gave in and listened to Steve Lamacq's covering of John's shift, playing a selection of sessions recorded for Peel over the years (from the Faces to Smashing Pumpkins to Hefner and PJ Harvey, et al.), interspersed with readings from letters and messages sent in by listeners. Not a word from the man himself, just his influence playing out on the airwaves.

And somewhere in this process is where I stopped keeping it together so well. Tears seeped out, quietly. And though I couldn't explain my eye wiping to my coworker who stopped by to ask me a question, it was still OK.

It helped somehow, knowing that Peel regularly described himself as a weepy person (crying in the back rows of a movie theatre, for example, or listening to Eddie Jefferson's "When You Look in the Mirror").

The loss of Peel is a huge loss; Peel was a mensch in the meaning of the word as I have it - he gave, he was self-effacing, and he cared. He leaves behind a legacy that to my mind ranks among the best.

Where words seemed never to fail him on air (unlike the equipment perhaps), they fail me now.

Posted by esinclai at October 27, 2004 09:42 PM |

Can't help but see this as a distanced response to two other loses - one radio, one not, both male - you've also had.

Posted by: mike whybark on October 29, 2004 02:42 AM
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