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December 5, 2009

Jeff Healey - RIP

When the world lost Canadian jazz/blues musician Jeff Healey on March 2, 2008, Canada lost one of its best musicians and the world lost an awesome guitarist.  I've been a fan of Healey since college, when his album "See the Light" came out.  I was hooked by "Confidence Man" but he became big in the States with the smash hit "Angel Eyes."

I sit here alone while the wife is out at an office holiday function, at the computer trying to write a review, and I've got the Blues station on my TV (one of those digital music stations that all the cable companies offer now).  Suddenly, "I Think I Love You Too Much" comes on and I just have to sing along.  As soon as its over, I go to Youtube and find some other Healey, and I'm lost for at least half an hour.
Healey was blind, so watching him play guitar was quite an experience.  He could tickle those strings and get some of the most gorgeous sounds out of them, though.  While he had an awesome band behind him as well, not many people could make the guitar sing like he could.  Watching him live, sweat flying from his head as he got so deep into the music, it was a pure pleasure to watch.

I have kind of a personal story related to Healey.  Not having met him, no (I wish!).  Nor did I ever see him perform live (just watched live performances on video, like this one):

No, this is just one of those college stories that I promised you in previous posts.  I went to an off-campus party with some of my dorm floormates.  The beer was flowing a bit and there was dancing, and I was having a semi-good time.  I was getting a really good buzz on, but the other two guys I was with had paired off with women they'd found there and I was getting bored out of my mind (yes, I wasn't the most outgoing person).  So I got on the bus (now that I think of it, there may have been a shuttle out to this party, I don't remember) and headed back to the dorm.

I called up a friend of mine (one who I was kind of attracted to, but who I was just friends with, and yes, there were a lot of those in my college days).  She said that she was heading down to the campus radio station to sit with and help out a friend of hers who was the overnight DJ, but I was welcome to come along.  Since the radio station was in Friley Hall and I was in Helser, right across the parking lot, I quickly agreed (hell, was I going to turn down a chance to spend time with her?).  So I headed down there too, and we sat and chatted for a while.  I had gone up to 7-11 to get a Big Gulp, thinking the caffeine would take the edge off this massive buzz I had from the beer.  No such luck, as I started nodding off fairly quickly, until she kindly suggested that I might want to head back to my room and get some sleep.

But before that happened, I asked if he could play some Jeff Healey for me.  He said something like "Anything but 'Angel Eyes'" (which was the big single at the time).

Though I did like that song, I knew it didn't fit with the format that he was playing that night.  I hadn't really wanted that song anyway, as I really wanted to hear "Confidence Man," my first (and favourite) Healey song.

I honestly can't remember if he played it or not, but just listening to Healey brings back some fond college memories.  I didn't even know he was Canadian at the time!

I didn't hear a lot of Healey after I moved to Canada, mainly because he had kind of gotten tired of mainstream rock and roll and wanted to go back to his jazz and blues roots.  He played live every Thursday night at a couple of different venues in Toronto (one of the only reasons that I would have loved to have been in Toronto at any one time), but I never really heard about him coming out here.  If he did, I missed it.

On that fateful day in March, 2008, when I heard that Healey had finally succumbed to cancer, I did shed a tear.  We had lost one of the greats.  Just hearing that guitar riff at the beginning of "I Think I Love You Too Much" just sent shivers down my spine again, and I just had to write about it.

Thank you for the wonderful music you gave us, Jeff.  You are definitely missed.


  1. He sure can make that guitar sing. I know how songs can bring back memories. I was just watching PPs TV station. They are playing songs from the 50's by the original artists. I'm sitting here back in high school. I'd give anything for the 6 CD set of all those songs but you have to pledge 150.00 to get it. Oh they are playing some wonderful ones. I should have taped it but didn't think of it till a few minutes ago. It's nice when music takes us back to our childhood years.

  2. What's "PP"? I saw you mention it on Facebook as well. I assume it's Public Television, since you mention pledging.

    Yeah, wasn't Healey great? Did you watch all the songs?

    And no comment on the college story? :P

  3. Yea it was public TV I listened to all the songs. They were good. As for the college story what's there to say. I'm sure you & Scott have both done things I'm better off not knowing. It's okay for you to write these things. I'll still love you. LOL


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