Billy Ruane -- Music High and Low
Many have spoken of Billy's enthusiasm, his lack of guile, his support of the local music scene, his shirt unbuttoned to the navel.
Fewer have referred to the "demons," but they were clearly there and whether the music helped exorcise them to some degree is debatable, but I'd like to think so.
If anything, for me, Billy was a kind of canary in the coal mine. For those unfamiliar with the term, in those pre-technological days when there were no machines for gauging the discharge of dangerous gases, miners would take canaries down below with them since these birds would perish first, indicating all was not right in the subterranean depths.
Does Billy's death indicate all is not right in Boston? Or more generally, in this beloved land so inundated with soulless music? It might be cheap to look for metaphorical ramifications in the event of a tragic death, but I do know one thing. When I would attend shows at which Billy was present (most of them), I would often watch his face as the band played, and invariably his reactions were a good gauge of where things were about to head. It was like he was more attuned to the music than the rest of us, like he anticipated the ups and downs of the tunes and the energy being put behind them. Or maybe it just seemed that way, Billy and his enthusiasms providing at the very least an example of just how far one could go into joy. He raised the bar, and when he approached you straight from the literal bar with a clear drink in hand, his trademark pompadour recalling at once an earlier era and David Lynch, you felt as if an emotion embodied was moving across the room, coming at you a bit too sloppily, yet in the end welcomely, his hug around the neck and wet kiss on the cheek a charm that pushed you to a higher place on the emotional scale.
In chilly Boston, Billy was a gulf stream current, a tropical breeze blowing in, sometimes soothing, sometimes cloying, yet clammy or warming he never failed to impress one with the possibilities of life.
Others have said it before, but it bears repeating. Rest in Peace, Billy -- and may your presence continue to linger in the music scene like a sea breeze, soft and low.
p.s. Turns out there's a Billy Ruane / Warren Buffet connection. No, really. Check it out: