R.I.P., Jack Bruce

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Photo of Jack Bruce,  2006Photo by Christian Sahm (2006); used under the Creative Commons license.

Of all the rock “icons” whose talents peaked in the late 1960s through the early 1970s, Jack Bruce – bass player, songwriter, and remarkably polished vocalist – is probably one of the more under-appreciated. He certainly contributed more than one-third to the sound of Cream, the band he formed with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. But his solo work during a slightly later period garnered him relatively little acclaim, as I recall, probably because it was so much subtler and harmonically complex than his work with Cream. His musicality was not lost on me, however, just a high school senior at the time of his 1971 release, “Harmony Row”. That year, if you remember it at all, was a time of high historical drama and, for some of us, personal lessons learned. Bruce provided part of our common soundtrack, in an uncommonly sophisticated way. Here’s one of my favorite songs from Harmony Row: “Can You Follow”.

 
Hey can you follow,
Now that the trace is fainter
In the sand
Try turning your face to the wall

Can you still read me
Now that the chase is wilder
In your hand
Try losing your place in the sun

All the praises of the dream
Turned to tangles in the trees
All yesterday’s fine chariots
Turned to buses in the street

Can you still hear me
Now that the songs are moving
Into night
Try sleeping with the dancers in your room