Today is the birthday of Gene McDaniels. Eugene Booker McDaniels was born in 1935, which would have made him 80 today. What a fantastic accomplishment that would have been, but it certainly would have been a sweet icing on an already rich cake.
In his career, Gene advanced music, art, pop culture, social awareness, and the incendiary issues of racial divide that seemed to mark his entire time on this earth. Gene always got there before anyone else, defined the space he was in, and left seemingly before anyone else arrived. He did this in several chapters in his life to history-making success. Gene McDaniels was exceptional at everything he did.
Since Gene’s passing, I think of him frequently. The sense of loss is significant, as I had just gotten to meet and work with him in the last 2 years of his life. I have a lot more about Gene to share, but have been at a point of pause for some time now. I’ve been focusing my efforts on a gift to Gene that I had hoped would be complete by today so I might offer it as a birthday gift. Alas, this one will have to be slightly belated, as many homemade things are…
So, to celebrate Gene today, I’ve collected some of my favorite work of his in to a playlist. This is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive; it just is a tiny scratch on the surface of a huge body of work. I’m enjoying these songs today, and hope you do, as well.
“I have just begun to know the meaning of my being…” – Gene McDaniels, “Follow You Down”
Thanks, Gene. Take it slow.