Gloomy Tunes: Tommy Keene, RIP

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.



Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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