The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kenny Rankin & Layer Cake Shiraz

So another year of the Grammy’s has passed, complete with some of the oddest performances (Lady Ga Ga, Elton John, Pink) that I’ve ever seen. I’ve yet to hear Taylor Swift sing on-key and last night’s duet with Stevie Nicks on “Rhianna” was disasterous. Sweetheart, that’s what that little ear bud is for, so you can hear yourself. Of course, you do have to listen. Really enjoyed the tribute to Michael Jackson. Powerful vocals by Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Celene Dion, Usher, and Smokie Robinson. Great song, too. And as a Dave Mathews fan, he was great as always.

But while watching pictures of artists who died during 2009 I was shocked to see one of my all time favorites had passed on. Kenny Rankin, a phenomenal singer-songwriters and guitarist, died in June of 2009 of lung cancer. His career, which spanned more than five decades, was a combination of his smooth jazz guitar style and a velvet voice that marked his music. His credentials include penning Helen Reddy’s hit song, Peaceful,” playing in Bob Dylan’s backup band, and over 25 appearances on the Johnny Carson Show. The latter is where I first heard him. I later saw him in a tiny acoustically perfect theater in Chicago in 1978 and walked away in awe. He performed several Beatles covers and so impressed Paul McCartney that he had him play at his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. Check out his version of Blackbird, one of my favorites along with “Haven’t We Met” and “Catfish.” While he’s a fabulous guitarist, his tenor voice is unparalleled soaring through lyrics and jazz scatting alike. I saddened by his death, but hope you enjoy him as much as I have.

Haven’t we met:

Why do fools fall in love:  


When sunny gets blue:

Oh so peaceful here:


Round Midnight:


Peaceful (Later version):

Penny Lane:

You’d be so nice to come home to:

Hidin inside myself:

To listen to Kenny, one needs a rich full wine, so I suggest a Layer Cake Shiraz. It may be one of the best Shiraz’s on the market today for under $20.00. I paid $16 and it was a steal. It’s made from old vine Shiraz grown in the Barossa Valley in Australia. In the glass, It’s a deep purple color. Its nose explodes with concentrated black fruit, mocha, dark chocolate, and coffee beans. On the palate, its full of juicy blackberries, black cherries, cassis, and chocolate with just the right amount of pepper. It’s classic Shiraz. It’s included in Robert parker’s Wine bargains from The World's Best Wine Values Under $25.00 and Wine Advocate gave it 90 points. Great wine, great singer/songwriter/guitarist, enjoy!


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