Monday, September 25, 2017
Evanston: the death of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
Earlier this evening I was listening to music with a martini at hand—my left hand where I could see and not spill it—when on a shuffled playlist a song by Gurrumul came up. I, the least tribal of men, found myself wondering if with his fame and wealth Gurrumul had remained close to his Aboriginal tribe on Elcho Island in far northern Australia, so I googled and was saddened to learn that Gurrumul died two months ago today at age 46 at the Royal Darwin Hospital. In addition to being born blind, he suffered from liver and kidney disease.
I have written about Gurrumul at least twice before and found the posts. They are here and here. I also found that Gurrumul has released two more albums, one of gospel music, one with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, both of which I immediately bought from iTunes.
Of those who admire Gurrumul’s music, I am one of the few who know where his native Elcho Island is. I don’t recall ever seeing it, but I’ve sailed past four times. That his life moved from one of the most remote places on the planet to world wide fame is superbly unlikely.
If you read my earlier posts about him, you will find that after first hearing Gurrumul on Australian radio, I thought it unfortunate that not many would ever hear him. How fortunately wrong I was.
Carol has come home. We’ve had dinner. She has gone to bed. A Cubs game is on the television, sound muted. The martini glass to my left has been replace with a Dartington crystal glass of Laphroaig. I try to imagine Gurrumul’s life. I am deeply touched by his death.