Rob and I listened to a lot of music together over the years. In the early days, I turned him and Zach on to the artists and bands I grew up with and loved (Steely Dan, R.E.M., Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and all the other usual old-guy suspects), and later the roles reversed and it was the kids who shared their new discoveries with me. It amazed me how they both knew exactly what I’d like (my favorite music nowadays is sort of when hip-hop collides with jazz). Almost every song they turned me on to I still play obsessively, which, for me, has always been the highest level of love.
In recent years, every now and then, I’d return to my original role and introduce them to something that I had stumbled upon, mostly from hearing it on KCRW. That’s how I got Rob to listen to Thundercat’s most recent album, “Drunk.”
“Good title,” Rob quipped.
The song that I knew he’d love is “A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)”–you can listen to it here–which begins with a funky bass line before Thundercat purrs “meow” about 10 times and then sings:
I wish I had nine lives
I bet it feels real nice
Sitting in the sun
Letting the rains wash over me
No one watching over me
I do what I want
Everybody wants to be a cat
It’s cool to be a cat
“Every time I listen to this, dude, I think of you,” I remember telling him. “It needs to become your theme song!”
I also remember Rob smiling each and every time I played it for him.
On the way to therapy in Silver Lake the other day, I was listening to an interview with Thundercat on The New Yorker Radio Hour podcast and he was talking about grief and how he dealt with losing his friend, the rapper Mac Miller. After answering a few questions, they played the beginning of another one of his songs, “Them Changes”:
Nobody move, there’s blood on the floor
And I can’t find my heart
A chill ran down my spine as I immediately thought of Rob, but not just of Rob–it’s the two of us, his action and my reaction, bound together in the first two lines of a song that’s one of my least favorites on the album.
I didn’t mention any of this to my therapist because we had other things to discuss, but as soon as I got home, I played the stupid Cat song obsessively–the highest level of love–and cried my fucking eyes out.
Rob, I wish you had nine lives.