First Christopher Hitchens passes away and now news that the incomparable Etta James is at death's door.
Hitchens was one of those gifted controversialists who be could not be ignore. He had that facility with language that bespoke a kind of genius. For chivalry's sake one must grant him the laurel of worthy adversary. He was reported to be a gent and a sport in private company. I've always seen him as a type, that is, the language artist as prankster/character. That is not to say that he was disingenuous. But he did play the role of himself to the limit, with a self-conscious understanding that the more outrage - the more fun.
What a shock to learn of the great Etta James dire condition while unaware that she yet lived. I suspect that many didn't realize that she was still with us. To have heard her in the pre-rock and roll era is to hear the soul of an era ended too soon. Her voice lingers in the far corridors of my early recollection, there to remain as the somber echo of a better time.