Bradley E. Delp, 1951-2007

March 13, 2007 at 1:23 am | Posted in Evil Tribune, Muzak | 1 Comment

We lost a great one this weekend.  Or at least we lost someone. delp.jpg

As you probably heard, Brad Delp was found dead in his New Hampshire home on Friday.  I never cared for Boston or their particular brand of power rock.  More to the point, I think they stunk–both the band and 70’s power rock.  But nonetheless, lead singer Brad Delp changed my life, and for that I am grateful.

A little over a year ago, I was part of a futile attempt to unionize The Eagle-Tribune and its sister newspapers.  After trouncing us in the election, management demoted re-assigned me to a beat in Atkinson, NH, where Delp lived and died. 

Atkinson and its neighbor Plaistow were the first two towns I covered when the Tribune hired me as a Town Reporter in 2003.  About eight months later, I was promoted to the City Desk, where I worked as a General Assignment reporter covering our larger readership area in Massachusetts.

After the election slaughter, there was a major staff re-alignment, and the union organizers were given considerably less desirable beats.  I’d worked the GA beat for more than a year, but was promptly banished to Atkinson.  My Tribune career had come full circle.  This time, however, I didn’t even get Plaistow.  So I actually had a smaller territory, and hence a lamer beat than when I’d started at the paper.  (Let that be a lesson to you, children.  Mess with The Man, and he will kick you in the nuts.)

I tried to be a good loser about all this, but it was difficult.  Suddenly I was back to Board of Selectmen meetings and school assemblies, struggling to meet my quota of two stories a day.  There’s not a lot going on in Atkinson.  And I found myself covering the same stories I’d written about during my first Atkinson stint.  The Vietnam War Memorial feud.  The debate over funding public kindergarten.  Small-town political bickering.  Lots of small-town political bickering.

When I covered Atkinson that first time, they were debating whether to build a new library.  The library trustees were still trying to sell voters on that idea two years later.  After a deflating setback at Town Meeting, they booked Beatles cover band “Beatlejuice” to perform a library benefit concert.  This was a hot story.  My big source at Town Hall put me in touch with the concert’s organizer, who said he would have Beatlejuice’s singer call me for an interview.  What a score.

That singer was Brad Delp, who was enjoying a quiet existence in Atkinson.  Though the newspaper knew this celebrity lived among us, we honored his standing request to never report it in our pages.  Given that knowledge, one can only imagine how many burnt-out gearheads and Beatlejuice groupies would have beaten down Delp’s door.

delp-tribute.jpg

For a full day, I waited for Delp’s call.  It never came, but the the news waits for nobody.  My editors needed that library concert story!  It was all we had for the Atkinson page!  So I slapped it together and went home to sit on the couch and wonder how in the fuck I was going to fix my life.

That night, copy editor Andrea Holbrook – a very kind and skilled copy editor, I should note – called to double-check the name of the band in my story.  Did I mean Beatlejuice, she asked?  Because I had written “Beatlemania.”

This mistake came as quite a blow.  Though my story was pathetic, it was still a story.  It would be printed in a newspaper, where it would reside on the record for eternity.  And I had almost screwed it up.  Badly.  Beatlemania?  How embarrassing.

If I could screw up a simple story like that, there was no telling what damage I was capable of.  I had mentally checked out of The Eagle-Tribune.  I’d gotten lazy, and that is dangerous.  I was enormously grateful to Andrea for saving me.

Delp called the next day.  He apologized for missing my deadline, and we small-talked for a good ten minutes.  I can’t recall a thing we talked about.  All I remember is that he was so friendly that I contemplated mentioning my disdain for his former band, and particularly “More Than a Feeling.”  I thought he might get a kick out of it.  He seemed like the type of guy who you couldn’t possibly offend.

As we wrapped up the call, I told Delp to enjoy the library benefit on Friday.  He asked what I was talking about, and started to worry that he had the wrong date.  Wasn’t the benefit on Saturday?  No, I insisted.  It was Friday.  I’d written it in the newspaper, after all.  And the newspaper is never wrong.

Delp checked his paperwork and confirmed that indeed, the benefit was Saturday night.  I double-checked my notes, which plainly said the benefit was Saturday.  Somehow during the journey from my notes to the computer, my rotting mind had corrupted the information, as it had the band’s name.  In a six-inch story, I’d managed to screw up the Who and the When of the Five W’s.  And the corrupted When made it to print.

We hung up the phone, and I started hyperventilating.  I was turning retarded.  So I ran outside and called my wife to tell her I was quitting the paper.  I had to get out before it got worse.  They had me broken and defeated, reeling like Cool Hand Lucas Jackson.  What’s your dirt doin’ in this ditch, boy?  I don’t know, boss.  They’d turned my mind to mush.

old-delp.jpg

I gave my two-weeks’ notice a couple days later.  And don’t you know those swine made me work for the two full weeks?  Some of my pro-union brethren quit after the elections, and they got an immediate escort out of the building.  They didn’t even have to work two more weeks, yet they still got two weeks’ pay.  That’s how badly they wanted us gone.

The point of all this is simply to thank y ou, Mr. Brad Delp.  If it hadn’t been you, it would’ve been someone else.  But you were the right tenor at the right time.  You pointed out the error of my ways, and showed me just how far I’d fallen.  You exposed me.  You were my rock bottom.

You gave me the push that I needed to take back my life.  And now whenever I hear Boston, I hear the sounds of triumph.  Of freedom and vindication. 

I hear the sounds of a life renewed.  But I still cringe at the high notes.

RELATED:  Steve Morse’s Boston Globe story on Brad Delp.  It’s not that special, but I figured I should give Delp a little more props for his musical legacy, even though it was lost on me.

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1 Comment »

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  1. I would cry but the percoset has robbed me of all emotion. I love that song “Carry on my wayward son.”


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