Silent Tree Music
( TRIBUTE TO A FRIEND )
( 9-3-65 to 12-18-13 )
Eulogy delivered Valley Berean Church, Sylmar, CA, 12-30-13
Copyright © 2013 - MickTerry.com
Sometimes the beginnings of a friendship remain indelibly crystal clear in the memory. Not so here.
Duan Sisco & I probably met at one of the parties hosted by Bella Piccinini around Hollywood, CA, in 1998, not long after my move to CA from MD. At one of those events, Duan & I found ourselves talking, sitting on the edge of a large water fountain in the back section of the restaurant. So immersed in our conversation, it was only after a substantial length of time that we discovered that the fountain's water had wicked up the tails of our jackets, gradually soaking our coats. But then again, we might have met at a Film Music Network meeting.
He also was a songwriter: creative & talented, playing flute, piano, steel drums & guitar, none of which I ever heard him play in person. At some point early on, he informed me authoritatively that all R&B songs consisted of only 2 or 3 chords, at most. Never before in all my musical training had I heard of such a limiting conclusive statement. But, with him being black, & me being of a much paler persuasion, I felt compelled to defer to his experience, after informing him of my disagreement. After years of subsequent observation & investigation, it seems that for the majority of R&B songs, he was basically correct.
He had taken several classes & consultations with Pete & Pat Luboff, a married pair of songwriting teachers. After the end of one of those classes, he shared the assignment with me: to write a song based on a given specific title. We worked together on it without much success for a few hours. Later, I continued writing on it alone to satisfactory completion. But when I shared the results with him, we both agreed that it was a shame we could never use the song as it had started out as somebody else's project. Although having nothing to do with & being nothing like that unused song, I was inspired by that experience to write a song about angels:
Angel in the Back Room
Duan had an in-depth knowledge of various strategies in lyric writing that had never occurred to me. He often amazed me with his perception of the craft of lyric writing. He once critiqued an established song of mine, seeing a need for a bridge where the piece had always seemed complete for years. It took over a year to get to it, but his advice was eventually followed.
We had many long phone conversations, on occasion lasting for 4 hours. Wide-ranging, they would often deal with health, cooking, eating, vegetarianism & spirituality, besides music. He was well-versed in many subjects.
After not being in touch with him for several months, I saw him at a picnic of Bella's at a pavilion in Griffith Park, barely recognizing him. Duan had always been skinny, even more so than me. But now he had a good bit of heft to him. He divulged that his more healthy, robust appearance was thanks to ridding himself of a parasite by diet. This, after discovering the cure through his reading.
Out of respect for his African heritage, our friendship & his sometimes somewhat child-like demeanor, a young character was named after him in another very serious song of mine in 2006:
Children of War
There were many more memories that came flooding back upon hearing of Duan's passing, but, unfortunately, they did not hang around for long.
I knew Duan to be a kind, gentle, soft-spoken man with a warm, easy laugh, who had much more going for him than I had ever imagined.
- Mick Terry
Copyright © 2013 MICK TERRY All rights reserved
[ Reprinted here by permission of the author. ]
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