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I was never a huge fan. I didn't even really hear about him until the late 1970s (what? I lived in DC. I listened to The Osmonds on records and Funk and/or Soul on the radio. BTW, Osmonds was being a preteen white girl; it's the Funk and/or Soul which was the DC signifier.). I saw the "Jazzing with Blue Jean" video in the movie theater when I went to see Company of Wolves (my first X rated film - British X, I don't know what it was rated in the US). I've still never seen Labyrinth, but I grinned to see him as Tesla in The Prestige. I'd recognize him if we passed on the street.

And yet, I feel terribly sad to hear of his death. Whether or not I liked him, he was a force in the arts, not just music, and his passing leaves a ripple over all their surfaces.

The In Memoriam article at Esquire sums it up:
The Beatles are classics now, like Handel or the Louie Armstrong Hot Fives. The Stones are a touring museum piece. But look around. In the major cities of the western world, we live in a world that David Bowie made. It is a better world for his making. Stephen Marche
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Most of my American friends won't have heard of Cilla Black, but I remember her from my childhood in London. Her one big hit in the US was the theme to the movie Alfie.

The Guardian has more on her.

This one is about the recording "Alfie."

This song was written for her by Paul McCartney. It's one of the few that he wrote for other artists while he was with The Beatles.

Just found one of her singing with the Dudley Moore Trio.
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Still I Rise
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

By the way, the Poem Hunter website has been a real help to me for inspiration and projects.
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He was one of the first people I recognized in British politics, along with Harold Wilson. Someone gave my father a copy of "The Bedside Cabinet Book" when we first moved to London in 1967. That book, which was pictures with silly captions, was one of my first introductions to British politics.

Mr. Benn, and he was MISTER, having renounced the title Viscount Stansted in order to serve in the Commons, was probably the most left wing of all the prominent Labour leaders. The ones who came up through the trade union movement understood compromise better -- understood constituents who might be conservative in small ways, social ways -- Benn was the pure Socialist who approached through ideology.

Even when I agreed with him (I'm left of center on the British scale, which makes me a raging commie on the American scale and firmly to the right of Tony Benn), I often found him didactic and off-putting.

And yet, I also felt Labour lost something when they relegated him to the back benches after Michael Foote's firm 1983 defeat. He was never namby-pamby. He kept talking when everyone else, even on his own side, told him to sit down and shut up. I respected him. He made me define my own values.

So, I leave you with his ten best quotes according to readers of the Guardian.

His son has acceded to the title on his death. I find myself oddly disappointed by that.


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