Cold, Cold Night

Winter moon.

“Once the world was new,  Our bodies felt the morning dew, That greets the brand new day, We couldn’t tear ourselves away, I wonder if you care. I wonder if you still remember, Once upon a time, In your wildest dreams.” — Moody Blues

Ray Thomas passed earlier this week with barely a mention. Thomas was a founding member, flautist, and vocalist of The Moody Blues. The  band broke away from traditional rock ‘n roll standards in 1967. They played rock with an orchestral twist. A little psychedelic. A little spiritual. And, certainly with great humor.

They continue to play today. In a twist of twists, they’ll be in New Orleans in three days. I’m thinking that we should go. Half way recovered from the flu or not, we should be there. The musicians of my time are passing before our very eyes.

In the publicity walk up prior to Eric Clapton’s movie, he’s been doing interviews. The normal sort of thing. I was well aware of his back pain problems. He says that he’s happy that his hands still work. But, he also is going deaf and he has tinnitus. I couldn’t imagine not able to play, and not being to hear if my life was all music. His ear issues make sense because musicians of his early era cranked up the amps and blasted away. They did not mic them. They stood in front of them and that wall of sound blew threw their ears and anything else that got in the way.

Eric and I share a couple of things. We are both recovered from our demons. Me, for almost 26 years. Eric for around 30. He was, at one very early point, my hero. Not for his music, but for saying things that helped get me through my early days.

Our other common bond is that we are not quitters. When he plays, he plays in pain. It would be very easy for him to retire completely. When I work, even on my best days, I work in pain. I could retire too. I won’t. Instead, we both manage it and keep going. A couple of grumpy old guys. Give us a break when we need one.

He’s playing three shows this summer. Two in Germany. One in Hyde Park, in England. Yes. We’ll be there. I honestly don’t know how much more live work he’ll do. I do not want to miss this.

I’ve missed too much. Even during the last half of 2017.

I live with two lines from another old musician, Neil Young.

“Don’t be denied.”


“The thing that makes you who you are will kill you in the end.”

I finally got a look at my back x-rays. It’s fine to read what the radiologists wrote. But, I know how to read negatives. Maybe better than the medics do. I’ve got a metal hip. I’ve got a small notch in my spine. And worse, four vertebrae that are completely ridden with osteoarthritis.

Painful? Certainly. Sometimes.

But, here’s the thing. Those vertebrae are all on my right side. The same side that I used to carry about 40 pounds of camera gear in a messenger or satchel-styled camera bag.  Most photographers of my age have some kind of back, leg or neck ailment. We didn’t know better 30 or 40 years ago. Even if we did,  we didn’t have many options. Today, you can buy gear bags that are simple, wrap around you, roll, make you look like you are going off to war. There’s a reason soldiers and marines wear what they do. And, unless you really need heavy gear, you can switch to lighter mirrorless equipment or smaller dslr bodies.


Between musicians news and my own mind, I started digging around in my own memories. I won’t go further. Doing that affects all of us in a different way. Sometimes, I want to put my hands over my face and just ask, “what the hell was I thinking?” Then I move forward.

The picture. What do you think? It’s symbolic. Winter. Winter in my soul.

The brightness of 2018 sure lasted a long time. 13 days.


Published by Ray Laskowitz

I am a visual storyteller. I've been making pictures for some 40 years. I travel the world in search of the right image. in the right light at the right time. You can reach me by phone at 505.280.4686, or by email at or For a quick look at my work please go to

16 thoughts on “Cold, Cold Night

  1. Keep up the good work! Pictures are amazing! To Quote a hero in Galaxy Quest ” Never give up! Never surrender!” Seriously, do what you love as long as you can, for that what makes life worth living!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Grief feels like a cold, cold night. I love the Moody Blues, and Ray Thomas. I saw them in concert in 1999. Thomas was having health problems back then. Brightness, and grief–like the seasons–will come and go. Thanks again, Ray.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I have different types of comments, so I’ll divide them up. The first is very light – I can’t wait to see the results of your London photography. I find your images provocative and inspiring, and London is my favorite city, so I am very much looking forward to the combination.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, we’ll be mostly traveling through the first quarter of the year with the exception of Parade season during Mardi Gras. Since I have run the music world, I rarely ever have time to make pictures. For EC in July, we’ll probably be there for 3-4 days, mostly so the cousins can cause trouble. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Second comment – rooting around in your past has provided some pretty interesting observations and insights, so I hope you don’t stop (unless it is too painful, which you seem to be suggesting). You are creating a written legacy that is a companion piece for your photographic art.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Third (and final) comment – on the photo. Agreeing with tjbarnum above, grief does feel like a cold, cold night, and your photograph illustrates your reflection and regret about the loss of Ray Thomas (and others) and the weight of constant pain. But I also see a hopefulness in it, in the way you have framed it. The leafless trees are reaching up to the moon, almost in supplication, which will fade and be replaced by the life-giving sun. That’s what I would think if I saw the photo without the (excellent) commentary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a reason why I don’t write very much. I’m not good at it. 😂 I’m not particularly sad or in mourning. As George Harrison wrote, “all things must pass.” As far as physical pain goes, not much I can do aside from medicate it until some doctor decides that I need spinal fusion surgery, which likely won’t be a long time.

      The funny thing about my picture is that you probably framed it better than I could. I just see things and press the button. For me, anything else gets in the way.

      Liked by 1 person

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