Trane, what’s in the sound of your name?
Like a candle that’s lit by a flame,
Your horn was reborn every time you blew life through its bell,
Showing us there’s a heaven as well as a hell.

You went through so much pain
in a life full of darkness and rain.
You found light in the night and you flew
to a place where the great always do,
and you played from the heights with your heart and your mind
showing us what was true.

Inspired, with a sound that never grew tired,
you could whisper the tenderest tones,
or wail in the farthest out zones.
Space and time were your friends-
paths without ends rolled out of the bell of your horn,
and your children were born.

Aug. 22, 1992

I wrote this poem on the road with the Flecktones just before a concert in California. John Coltrane was my number one source of musical inspiration when I started to get into Jazz in 1968. Unfortunately, since he died in 1967, I never heard him live, but the album Crescent made a huge impression on me on first hearing. I had what you might call a religious experience while listening to it (something that many people felt when listening to Coltrane live or recorded).

As I wrote it I was hearing the words as a 12 Bar minor key blues. “Your children” in the last line refers to both his musical ideas and to those musicians who studied his music and were inspired and educated by his ideas. What I really was talking about was the legacy that he left us.

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