The Dropper

Band: Medeski Martin & Wood
Album: The Dropper
Best song: The title track.
Worst song: I don’t know enough about this record to make this distinction.

Today is the second anniversary of the saddest day of my life. It goes without saying that May has now become a dreaded month; Memorial Day is not the celebrated holiday I love anymore.

Losing a close friend is something that’s outstandingly hard to comprehend; close friendships are defined in a way that few others are. Sure, mother/child relationships are something, but they generally have a definition. Romantic relationships can span many things, but they certainly work a certain way, definitions or not.

But, close friends all occupy different spaces. I tell Friend A different things than I may tell Friend B. My closest friend is someone I don’t talk to very often; my favorite person in the world (a different friend) is someone I’ve not spoken to in about a year (we’ve texted, e-mailed, etc.). My closest friend here in DC is someone with which I have a complicated relationship, yet I still tell her more than nearly anyone else. I have another friend with whom I mainly talk about poop. But, I hardly talk to these people about baseball.

Which is to say that I have other friends for that. I have a friend who is a Philadelphia fan and he’s become one of my goto people to talk baseball with. I don’t mind talking Phillies; the Sox aren’t much of a team right now. I have another friend with whom I talk about hockey. I have another friend here with whom I talk about our college friends. I have friends with whom I talk about our softball team or friends with whom I talk about the journalism industry or whatever. I have friends from HS with whom I talk about HS people (mostly, we bitch about Julia Allison, famous for being famous).

Taft was my closest friend and I tended to talk to him about all these things.

Taft and I entered graduate school in the same semester, the fall of 2007. It was a few months after our excellent trip to Wyoming to see our friend Kara get married. That trip is one of the fondest in an all-too-short lifetime of fond memories. We spent a lot of that trip talking about school, my Rolling Stone project and the general state of our lives.

Nevertheless, Taft moved out to Syracuse to do grad school while I did mine part time. This made for my calling him nearly every week on my drive home from school. In it, we talked about my frustrations with school and work, his excitement and passion for his grad school. We talked about the iPhone and the ability to work on the go. We talked about the girls who loved him in grad school — my romantic advice to him when he left for school was this: “You’ll have nothing to worry about, as humor is the currency in your educational pursuits.” I was, to toot my own horn, correct.

This was an extentsion of our hundreds of conversations we had over the years, post-college, over Google Talk. I have them all archived and started rereading them a few months after Taft passed away. It’s striking his level of caring, his concern about me, his concern about my friends. His intelligence shines through; a quick wit even in the strangest of media (“Mormons: having their repressed sexual desires come out in ways we never thought imaginable.”).

And we talked about everything. I miss that so very much.

I have so many memories of Taft, but it’s hard to pin one down. Cooperstown and the hubris we both had at the speedpitch tracking thing (I beat him by, I think one MPH). The goofy impressions of his ex-roommate from Taiwan (“Hey Tehft. I love you.”). The Harry Caray voice. The nicknames we gave his ex-girlfriends. The nickname I gave him (Hurricane Taft). The trips to Lawrence and Kansas City in college. Playing tennis ball baseball on the lawns in college. High school radio. College radio. Goofing around at promo our junior year.

But, mostly, I miss talking to him.

For Taft’s memorial service, I was partially in charge of putting together a mix of songs to play as everyone left the church. Taft was a huge jazz fan — he was the jazz director at our college station under my administration — and Medeski, Martin and Wood was one of his favorites. I put a song from this album on there; I don’t know enough about MMW to know if it was a great song. I do know it’s one that Taft liked. “The Dropper” is one that makes me cry whenever I hear it, despite it’s pronounced peppy tone.

It’s a great album. Taft was a great, great man, taken from us far too soon.

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  • By April | Albums That I Own on September 14, 2011 at 9:14 am

    […] sadly, some great people die before those who care about them can actually express how they feel […]

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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