The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Henry Gibson dies at 72


I loved him as a kid on Laugh-In, and always enjoyed his character roles, from The Long Goodbye to The Blues Brothers. I also adored the fact that his greatest part, as country veteran Haven Hamilton in Robert Altman's Nashville was based largely on fellow Nova Scotian Hank Snow, a tribute that the Singing Ranger may or may not have appreciated, but certainly adds an extra level to my love of the film.

Here's an appreciation by Harry Shearer, with a link to the obit.

9 comments :

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Wow. Hey now, swac, it's frankly eerie how well you spoke for me and probably many others -- and not for the first time. Thanks.

Pop9 said...

He was just perfect as the nazi officer in The Blues Brothers. RIP.

Fred said...

His shtick on Laugh-In where he wore a Nehru jacket, held a flower and recited poetry went right over my 5 year old head.

swac said...

I really must digitize my copy of the LP "...by Henry Gibson." I believe it's just a reissue of his 1962 LP "The Alligator and other poems by Henry Gibson" that was put out to capitalize on his Laugh-In popularity, but I got it for a buck years ago, so I can't complain.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Okay, you say Hamilton is based on Hank Snow. Sutpen's always argued that he's based on Roy Acuff. I read somewhere that Red Foley provided the inspiration for the character.

We need to have a palaver and get our stories straight. ;-)

Milan said...

I think the essential elements of the HG character in Nashville come from Roy Acuff, not Hank Snow or Red Foley. Nobody in country music in the early 1970s would have looked at Haven Hamilton and failed to see Acuff. Acuff let Richard Nixon onstage at a grand re-opening of the Grand Ole Opry in 1974 to court his base (with some not very presidential yo-yo schtick followed by piano playing). Acuff was a former political hopeful himself (Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1948) and within his industry a self-promoter who had succeeded in identifying himself to many as the musical soul of the weekly Grand Ole Opry, although he had been more businessman than musician for decades by the 1970s.

There is a passage in Nick Tosches' first book, which I don't have anymore, that documents how Roy Acuff was behind some pseudonymous naughty "double meaning" recordings early in his career, before he went all preachy.

Pedro said...

Also, Thurston Howell in PT Anderson's Magnolia

Tom Sutpen said...

Stephen:

Digitize that thang!

swac said...

Acuff is certainly the most iconic of the three, I have no problem deferring to that.