News broke today that legendary R&B singer/songwriter James Ingram passed away at the age of 66. My heart goes out to his family, loved ones and fans. I mean this in the sincerest kindness when I say that he reached one of the highest echelons of musicianship, if only by the fact that the world is constantly exposed to his hits in doctor’s offices, lobbies and light radio stations everywhere. Our exposure to his craftsmanship is well deserved – we all know it’s not easy to make hits that last. “Somewhere Out There”, “I Don’t Have the Heart”, “Just Once” and more. We recognize his works, and will for generations to come.
At the time of these song’s releases, I did not really appreciate his efforts or talents beyond anyone else that I heard on the radio. My teen angst just couldn’t handle “Somewhere Out There”. But my exposure and appreciation has grown with time. “I Don’t Have the Heart” is a standard in my current home, and it is my favorite work of his, as well as one of my favorite ballads from the late 20th century. The message, of course, is a twist on the standard break-up song, with the lyrics coming from the point of view of not loving someone. It’s crazy. Musically, I love the slow, sad ballad that bursts into a wailing climax. The song then fades out while still at its highest point, rather than the break it all down wrap up. A beautiful piece of work, and no wonder it stands out among its contemporaries.
I hope we can all take some time to recognize and revisit Mr. Ingram’s contributions to the world. Rest in Peace, Sir.