Call this “Coffee Pods III.”
I was emptying the little bin in the espresso maker when my phone pinged. The Associated Press was telling me that Aretha Franklin just passed.
I never knew her. I photographed her once. In the days of black and white film processed in a newspaper’s wet darkroom for publication the next day. I have the negatives. But, I’d have to root through a very rudimentary file system. Then, I’d have to scan them and retouch them and, and, and… you wouldn’t see them for weeks.
In that moment, I decided to make a new series of images that are completely controlled by external sources. For now, let’s just call them, “What were you doing when you heard?” Sure, this picture is also the third in a series of artistic coffee pods.
Aretha died of pancreatic cancer. Another one with the “Big C.” She was fairly private about it. I liked something Marianne Williamson, the spiritual guru and seller of motivational things, said about the first night that we heard Aretha was coming to the end of her road. She said something like, the whole world was praying and it was a sacred night.
It was. In the midst of all this disruption, meanness and polarization, people all around the world said a little prayer for her. You know that I’m not the most religious person on the planet, but I’m pretty sure we could use more prayers and less arguing.
The picture. It’s less than three hours old. I made it. I worked on it. It is here.
In New Orleans we would sing two songs for Aretha. “Golden Crown” which would open like this, “Aretha Franklin got a golden crown… And, “I’ll Fly Away.”
Fly away Aretha. Rest in peace. Say hello to all the rest of the musicians that I miss. Thanks for all of your music.