"a thousand libraries were lost"
July 7, 2014 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Bob Abrahamian was a Chicago DJ, record collector, and chronicler of Chicago's soul history whose death in June at age 35 shocked soul music lovers around the world. The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Guarino says: "He left behind tens of thousands of 45-rpm records, but to those who knew him, it was the generous spirit in evangelizing the music that made the greatest impact." His work lives on on the site for his radio show, Sitting in the Park, which features exclusive music from and extensive interviews with 60s and 70s Chicago soul musicians.

Despite this legacy, the loss to soul music lovers and historians is incalculable, says Jake Austin: "The anecdotes, data, and culture preserved in those recordings represent a fraction of what Bob knew about the hundreds of musicians he featured. He would privately interview them for hours in advance, and he knew so much more than got on the show. His humanity trumped any journalistic instincts, so Bob would never ask on the air about difficult truths, or dig into stories that made his subjects uncomfortable. But he knew all the dirt and the fascinating backstories. And we don't. And we won't."
posted by carrienation (10 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Iridic at 7:40 PM on July 7, 2014

That I had to find out about this man and his work through his death notice makes me incredibly sad. And how could he think his life's work didn't matter??? That's the great lie of depression for you.

I bet the music at his funeral is phenomenal.
posted by themanwho at 8:11 PM on July 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by me3dia at 9:28 PM on July 7, 2014

Sad. I'm left feeling his life's work wasn't the collection and conservation of the records, though that was certainly part of it. Perhaps the love and care he showed for the community was his life's work, the radio show and record collection were simply a way for it to manifest itself. What a loss.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:48 PM on July 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow. I'm listening to the earliest show. It's SO hard to find that sound anymore. An effort that only love and dedication could create.

This is very sad. Yet, many talented people leave us who were never able to leave such a legacy behind. It's wonderful that WHPK gave Bob a home to write this remarkable history.
posted by Twang at 12:30 AM on July 8, 2014

And how could he think his life's work didn't matter?

Really. That's so irrational that I was tempted to think it was your assumption, not his belief, but the article says that this was in the letter that he left. It's humbling and scary to think of being brought so low that you'd not see that others do indeed put great value on this beautiful cultural heritage work you had done.

I slept a lot when I was badly depressed, way too much. I've always had great compassion for people who go insomniac with it; that sounds terrible to bear.
posted by thelonius at 2:09 AM on July 8, 2014

I owe a lot of who I am today in terms of taste and curiosity to a generous curatorial spirit much like Bob Abrahamian, whom I was fortunate enough to hear on a tiny AM station in eastern Pennsylvania for a few glorious months in 1979-80. Sadly, also like Bob Abrahamian, he was gone too soon.

I hope that radio, and the guiding presence of its many enthusiastic, fiercely knowledgeable record nerds, survives the juggernaut of the Internet and social media. I've found Soundcloud et al. to be simply OK alternatives; one dedicated geek with a two-hour weekly radio show is worth 100 streams, at least in my experience.

Thanks for posting, although I wish the news were happier.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:11 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry I never heard his show when he was alive. What a loss.

Thanks for posting.
posted by readery at 5:14 AM on July 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

A friend of a friend, who is just...bereft.
posted by GrammarMoses at 7:58 AM on July 8, 2014

Thanks for posting this. I'd never heard of him, but, visiting his site, I'm very glad many of his shows are archived and available to enjoy.

posted by the sobsister at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2014

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