The Many Generations of Dave Brubeck Fans

His death reminds us not only of his music, but of the people we've lost who loved his music.

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Reuters / Gary Hershorn

I am sure that my father wasn't the only father of the 1970s who taught his children to appreciate the music of Dave Brubeck. I am sure there were thousands of other dads who would take out the vinyl (or, in our case, the eight-track tapes) on Sunday mornings or Saturday evenings and play for their families such Brubeck classics as "Take Five" and "Blue Rondo a la Turk" "Unsquare Dance," "Bossa Nova USA," and "It's a Raggy Waltz"; play proudly for their loved ones the music they had grown to love coming of age in the 1950s.

It wasn't the music, at first, that I loved. It was the way my dad so clearly enjoyed the music and how much reverence he showed for men like Brubeck and Oscar Peterson and many other jazz legends who had come to Montreal and played there. It was only later, after I had heard these pieces over and over, that I came to appreciate the sound. Looking back, I suppose what I really appreciate is both the music, and the loving memories of hearing that music, of my life when it first washed over me as a child, which is why I was so sad to learn of Brubeck's death.

We grieve of course when we lose a loved one. But we may grieve again years later when we lose someone, even a stranger, who we know meant something special to the loved one we have lost. The new death reminds us anew of what the old death took from us. I feel that way about Dave Brubeck. His death today makes me think of all those Sunday mornings, and the joy my dad shared with us, a joy which now is gone from this earth. I suppose I could look at it that way. Or I suppose I could see the vivid memory of it all as just another blessing the two men, strangers but collaborators, each in his own way, bestowed upon my life. And I suppose I could make sure that I play "Blue Rondo" this Sunday for my own son.

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Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is a legal analyst for 60 Minutes and CBS Radio News, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Commentary Editor at The Marshall Project

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