Someone called me out on "Where's your gratitude?" it's there, it's just pissed off."
—Eric Hansen, from a fundraiser update
It seems like half of my scant posts lately have been about musicians who have recently died. This is the one I didn't want to write.
Eric Hansen was my second vocal coach. After my first teacher showed me how to sing forcefully, Eric taught me how to dial it down. A songwriter himself, he often had suggestions about how I might change my lyrics. I don't think I took a single suggestion, but it always kind of delighted me that he offered them so freely—I knew I could trust him to be honest.
When my life transitioned into something more difficult, a while after he'd stopped being able to give lessons, he invited me to lunch and offered support. He told me to take care of myself.
Eric had a congenital lung disease called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Four years ago he got a double lung transplant and a shot at a normal life. After treatments, he could sing again.
Last year, his lungs started going into rejection. This year they told him they couldn't put him on the donor list again. Today he died.
I'm grateful that he got a few more good years in. I'm grateful that, shortly after he discovered his donated lungs were in rejection, I got to see him at last year's Tucson Folk Festival, hug him, and listen to him perform one last time.
The gratitude is there. It's just really, really pissed off right now.
Now please go sign your damn donor card if you haven't done it already.