SKF NOTE: Remembering Joe Morello tonight. A bittersweet memory. Joe was a drumming giant. Levon Helm said one afternoon in a restaurant that Joe brought Jascha Heifitz’s violin sensitivity to the drumset. Great analogy.
One evening in New Jersey Joe and his wife, Jean, went to visit some friends in their home. I was with the Morello’s but don’t remember why. What I remember most is the three concrete steps down to the walkway from their friends’ home front door. Joe was legally blind and this night had a wee bit too much to drink. Not a terrible amount, but enough to make him unsteady.
As we approached that first step down he took my arm for support and held it down the steps and walkway — asking me the whole time how close was the next step, how far down would he have to step — until we reached the car.
For me, a 30-something drummer/writer that was a powerful few moments. The contrast in Joe who could find his way around a drumset with blistering speed with Joe who couldn’t find his way down three steps. The grace and utter selflessness with which he just took my arm. And the honor I felt – and still feel – that he trusted me enough to take my arm at that moment.
It still brings tears to my eyes. I don’t know why. I think an argument can be made that the entire, brief incident captures the whole of being human.