Isaac Hayes and Mahmoud Darwish

It’s a cruel year when we have to mourn Bo Diddley, Isaac Hayes and Mahmoud Darwish, three personages that are so big it is hard for me to think of them as dead. All these guys were revolutionaries in their own ways.

Isaac Hayes passed on Sunday, and I will not repeat the incredible details of his life here, since you can read them yourself in this very good Washington Post obit.

Hayes’ 1974 song “Hung Up On My Baby” has probably my favorite guitar lick of all time (OK, with the possible exception of some Ali Farka Toure stuff, but I consider any comparisons with him unfair). It’s the one sampled in the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” and it’s completely haunting and unforgettable.

The song also has the second best guitar lick ever, which 2nd II None sampled in their early 90s hit, “If You Want It,” which was one of my favorite songs when I was about 12. Little did I know how much better the original was.

Mahmoud Darwish was, of course, a Palestinian poet — the Palestinian poet, really. His death on Saturday is a big loss not just because of his artistic genius but also because he was a voice of compassion, reason and nuance in a conflict and region rife with extremes. I feel lucky I got to see him read in person in Damascus in 2005. Here’s a decent LA Times obit (read it now because the link will probably only work for a while).

I’ll fill for them the parting glass, and I hope you’ll do the same.

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