The Big Hurt: Deepest sympathies

Our heartfelt condolences to Usher, Sammy Hagar, Courtney Love, and the Verve
By DAVID THORPE  |  September 8, 2008

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Being a legitimate enjoyer of the Smokey and the Bandit franchise — for real, y’all — I was saddened by JERRY REED’s passing. Not only did he provide one of the few solid arguments in favor of watching a Burt Reynolds movie, he wrote and performed some pretty sweet songs in his day. Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, eloquently summarized the man in press-release form:

. . . A three-time GRAMMY® winner, he wrote songs for a multitude of artists including Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, and Elvis Presley. His role in the hit film Smokey and the Bandit helped pave the way for other Nashville artists to break into films. The creative community has lost a significant voice today, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and all who enjoyed his work.

Something about that release strikes me as a bit familiar. Looking back, I find Portnow’s June 30 obit for pianist Leonard Pennario:

“. . . . Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, and all those who were influenced by his melodies.”

And his August 10 obit for Isaac Hayes:

“. . . Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and all who were inspired by the man and his music.”

And his August 15 obit for producer Jerry Wexler:

“. . . Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, and all who were moved by his work.”

And his August 20 obit for saxophonist LeRoi Moore:

“. . . Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the band, his family, and all who were moved by his music.”

Mind you, I’m not making fun; being the guy whose job it is to care about everyone who dies is tough, and having worked as a copywriter, I know how difficult it can be to find new twists on a concept after you’ve written it dozens of times. In the spirit of charity, one writer to another, I offer Mr. Portnow some freebies he can use to wrap up his next few releases:

“We offer our deeply felt condolences to his family, friends, and to all who have appreciated his songs.”

“Our ardent sympathy goes out to his friends and relatives, and to all those who have delighted in his undertakings.”

“The Academy tenders its most ruthful sympathies to his kin, his colleagues, and all who have cherished his œuvre.”

Two weeks ago, I wrote of downloading a leaked version of the VERVE’s new album, Forth, and finding that it was just a shitty rip of an Internet stream — complete with an annoying audio ad in the background telling me I’d won a free laptop, or something. On the day of Forth’s official release, COURTNEY LOVE put up a track from the album on her MySpace page. It seems she liked the song enough to pimp it out to her fans but not enough to pay for it: same leaked version, same audio ad blaring through.

I felt so sorry for the ol’ Verve that I paid for the record. I’m pleased to report that, despite being distinctly three-stars, it sounds much sharper on CD. I am also pleased to report that I’m less broke than Courtney Love.

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Related: The Big Hurt: Hagar the horrible, Almost Famous: Joe Bernstein, Cylons for McCain, More more >
  Topics: Big Hurt , Barack Obama, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash,  More more >
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