A few months ago, I got an email from Dave, one of the other members of The Persuasions, telling me that Joe was in the hospital. Though I didn’t have a lot of details, something told me that this was significant. I was seized with a desire to fly back to New York to visit, even though this was someone I’d only met the year before, and only met a few times. I kept in touch, got regular updates. Ultimately decided not to go, but to devote my time to making a music video of the ‘Gonna Build Me A Boat,’ using the scraps of video clips we’d taken during our rehearsal in Prospect Park and at the studio. As it turned out, I posted the video about 5 hours before Joe passed. He never got to see it.
As saddened as I am by his passing, I cannot help but feel overwhelming joy for the brief opportunity of having met Joe and recorded with him, and indeed giving him one more chance to get featured. My whole experience of going to New York and recording the song was so serendipitous, spontaneous and magical, it easily could not have happened. I certainly never expected or hoped it to happen. It was like a big bonus, and therefore doesn’t seem proper to mourn this loss, but rather to celebrate the magic of that moment. Of course, it is sad to think that ‘Boat’ will never be performed live in the same arrangement in which it was recorded. But then, I am thankful that it was recorded at all.
May your soul rest in peace, Joe Russell. It was an honour to have known you.