A Roundabout Tribute to Maggie Roche

I’m a fervent admirer of a handful of musicians. People who know me may understand the depth of my admiration for Leonard Cohen, whose deeply meaningful poetry set to music moves me beyond anyone else’s art. Yet, even in the midst of my near-worship of his music, my attachment to his lyrics never translated to a reverence for every aspect of his life. That is to say I never wanted nor permitted my relationship with even the most esteemed musicians to move into the realm of “groupie-hood.”  And it’s been the rare musician whose music has moved me to the extent Leonard Cohen’s music and performances did, and do. But the death of Maggie Roche, of The Roches, on Saturday, January 21, 2017 reminded me that I’ve had fierce attachments to the work of a few other musicians. Like Leonard Cohen, most of what I knew about Maggie Roche and The Roches revolved around their music; the lyrics and the tunes. I did not pay close attention to their lives outside their music; I did not even spend much energy following their music, though I enjoyed it immensely. When I heard a new song, or even an old one from years ago that moved me, it gave me new energy to listen intently to them for awhile before I moved on to whatever else was important in the moment. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that one of the Roche sisters had a daughter, Lucy, with Loudon Wainwright, but I did not know the particulars until this morning, when I did some research to learn who was what and what was who. During that research, I came across the video immediately below (if, over time, it is removed from its embedded spot in this post, I hope to find it on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGRxR1MVNk0), in which Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche sing. The song and video are companions to a book Suzzy Roche’s novel, Wayward Saints. I haven’t read it; I may read it one day.

This post was intended, from its inception this morning, to be about Maggie Roche. And it is; it’s just taking a while to get there. Because Maggie Roche, in my experience, was defined by her involvement with her sisters (Suzzy and Terre) in The Roches. As I was reading more about them this morning, I came across another video (below), this one on the part of The Roches‘ website devoted to Terre, that I found moving and uplifting:

Maggie Roche, at 65, was the oldest of the Roche sisters. Perhaps the best way for me to express who she was—the way she lit up the world with her music and herself—is to end this roundabout tribute to her with a video Suzzy posted on The Roches‘ Facebook page (Maggie is the one in the middle):



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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