Roger Abrahams – In memoriam
Margaret Mead taught us that elders transmit culture through their open palms. I have found this to be a helpful precept. It must have been at the Folklore Society Meetings in Nashville. As I was walking out, I saw a figure enrobed in a dark shawl seated in a wing chair with his back to the conference looking out at the grey afternoon. I tried to go by quietly but he noticed. His eyes lit up and he broke into his crooked smile. “Anna, it’s so nice to see you. What are you doing these days?” He took my hand and wrist for a moment, his skin smooth and warm, his hands sensitive.
Shortly thereafter, I asked him to write notes to his and Alan’s Nevis and St. Kitts recordings for the Lomax Caribbean series on Rounder. I highly recommend them; the notes are available here. The recordings can be heard here.
We spoke from time to time after that. Our connection was the Caribbean where I had become quite involved. I deeply regret not consulting him in person, But we had a terrible falling out. Much later after all was sorted out, we spoke for a long time. Some about Alan, but mostly about Roger’s abundant and recondite experience of sea shanties and seamen in the Lesser Antilles. It wasn’t just another conversation, but for some obscure reason, a deeply moving one I will not forget. We had so much to talk about and now he is gone. This song is for Roger. Thank you, Tina Bucuvalas, for passing it on to to me.
October 20, 2017