This one hits hard. Tommy Keene, a fine singer/songwriter and a true gentleman, died Wednesday night. According to his website, he died peacefully in his sleep. He was 59, too young for anyone to go these days. One of the premiere players of what was called “power pop,” the late-70s/early-80s style that brought the concision, song-craft and wit of the Beatles, Kinks, Byrds and others into the somewhat anarchic post-punk era. An indication of just how nice a guy Tommy was can be seen in the broad group of people he collaborated with: T-Bone Burnett, Matthew Sweet, Susanna Hoffs, the Goo-Goo Dolls (!), and Guided By Voices’ Robert Pollard, who he recorded and toured with as The Keene Brothers. And how could you not like a guy who called his greatest hits album “Tommy Keene You Hear Me”?
I was lucky enough to see him earlier this year at McCabe’s, on a double-bill with Ivan Julian. His set was as charming, funny, and tuneful as ever. Here’s his best-known song, “Places That Are Gone.” He will be missed.