Let It Be: Of Returning, and the Power of Tribute

It’s been a full month since I last appeared in these pages, and the usual battery of excuses hold: a busy life, a decent dollop of pain management, the classroom teacher’s summer modality that drags at the incentivist’s heart, technical difficulties (including an audio drive crash that has trapped my music archives in read-only form) and that excruciating, ever-widening, frozen gulf of that daunts those who have shirked their bi-weekly task.

As in previous lapses, being away has also reminded me of how deeply I need this outlet. Not a day has gone by where my heart does not long to write, to reach out and connect, to share with all of you the findings of a life in coverage, and the seeker’s life in turmoil that prompts me to continue. My decade-long conversion towards living a life of social justice and generosity finds me coming back to these pixelated pages more and more. And finally, the dam has burst, filling the chasm to the brim; finally, we are here, in yet another beginning.

But unlike previous returnings, today is not about me. Though the emotional power of coverage is often buried in the sheer and subjective joy of finding the familiar transformed, today’s toe-in-the-water is a full-bore exemplar of what a cover can really be, for audience and artist, on for which I am proud to serve as mere node and nudger.

The nut: on July 5th, cover artist and attorney Mike Masse‘s infant son Noah was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Two weeks later – on Noah’s first birthday, no less – Mike released a version of a song originally written by Paul McCartney both in tribute to his own mother’s cancer, and in an attempt to address and assuage the pain of process which was breaking up the Beatles partnership – and, not incidentally, the first Beatles single released after Paul announced his departure from the band.

Is it folk in sound and sensibility? No matter. Masse has always been a favorite in my YouTube collection – his pizza-palace take on Behind Blue Eyes is worthy of its own celebration – and sure enough, his pitch-perfect take on Let It Be is stunningly beautiful, enough to have topped the charts in the Netherlands in the weeks following its release. But coupled with its backstory, its implicit condemnation of the way American society treats families battling cancer, and its viability as a fundraiser for Noah’s support, it is also a genuine heartbreaker. The resulting video (and the mp3, which comes to anyone willing to donate to Noah’s cause) brings hope, acceptance, desperation more presently than I have heard in months, as we are simultaneously reminded of the song’s power, and granted access to the pain of the performance.

We’ll be back later this week with a more traditional entry, to be followed by several long-overdue posts on up-and-coming festivals, performances, and artists near and dear to our ears and heart. For now, though, we bring Masse’s tribute, solo and unadorned with bonus track distraction, as an opening into the heart that beats behind the blog, and the world it tries, in its better moments, to reveal. Expect shivers, and tears, throughout: for the song and its context, and then, finally, for the laughter that closes the video.

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2 Responses to “Let It Be: Of Returning, and the Power of Tribute”

  1. Grant

    Thanks for posting this, boyhowdy. As a parent, I can only imagine the pain that family is going through.

  2. Mandy Barry

    This is simply beautiful… all the best wishes in the world to Mike, his baby girl, and the rest of his family.

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