A Tribute to Rob Meurer

 

14484619_10209408058732713_6873369879369793826_nA friend, Rob Meurer, died last week in a tragic accident. He was killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street in front of his house in Studio City.

On the days following his death, I tried, but failed, to post anything about Rob on Facebook. I felt too raw. Too tender. Too shocked. Or maybe it was because I knew I needed to make a more thoughtful tribute to this gifted musician and generous person who taught me so much about art, and the dedication it takes to live a creative life.

On the morning of the day Rob died, I read a meditation about the importance of finding that “indwelling spirit,” or sustaining force within us that can carry us through times of sudden change — when events happen so fast we don’t have the time to adjust, or integrate the changes into our lives. The message helped to steady me as I dealt with Rob’s death, and how fast it had come, and how shaken I was.

Rob was a terrific musician, and he blew us away with his music every other week at the Unitarian Church of Studio City, where we met over ten years ago.

Sometimes he sang the music he wrote with his long-time collaborator and friend, Christopher Cross (Rob played keys and synthesizer on the album that won Cross a grammy in 1979).

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Other times he sang Bob Dylan,  Joni Mitchell, and Peter, Paul and Mary songs — “River,” and “Stewball,” and  “With God On Our Side.”

He was brilliant, and funny, and constantly made us laugh.

The work he did with Beth’s, his wife’s, project, the Rising Star Children’s Musical Theater Troupe, was an inspiration all its own.

Every time I saw one of the productions, I went away thinking about how lucky the kids were to have someone so creative and knowledgeable to work with and learn from.

14433143_10154597776821289_1919633696169282078_n       This is Beth, Rob, and “Audrey” in “Little Shop of Horrors”

Rob and I stayed in touch mostly on Facebook this last year, although our paths happened to cross the day before he was killed.

We lived in the same neighborhood, we both liked to walk, and he was on his way to the store when I was walking home from Trader Joe’s with a bag of  groceries.

I congratulated him on the musical he’d written that was being performed in Chicago. He told me the audiences loved it, but the reviews were not good.

“Many plays and movies that don’t get good reviews, initially, go on to be successful,” I said. ” “I didn’t think you were supposed to read the reviews.”

“The producers read them,” he told me.

Oh, right, money, I thought.

In an interview with the Daily News, Chris Cross talked about what Rob said to him when a project they’d hoped would be a commercial success had not worked out the way they wanted it to. ”Rob often said we should keep going, ‘because that’s what we do,’” Cross said,  “His love of the craft was as deep as anyone I’ve ever known. He knew why he was here.”

My most enduring memory of Rob (besides him letting me use his car for several months when I moved to Studio City ten years ago — In L.A., who does that!? ) is of Rob singing Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom Flashing” in church one 4th of July weekend.

“Tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing, ” he sang.

It was the best cover of the song I’d ever heard. And it was so Rob, a Bernie Sanders supporter who was always rooting for the underdog, always standing against the forces — political or religious —  that would divide us.

Rob’s wife, Beth, asked us to light a candle on what would have been Rob’s 66th birthday last week.

As I lit the candle, I read a poem by Lisel Mueller I’d heard that day that  reminded me of Rob’s passing, and of what the meditation I’d read earlier said about change, and how change can empower us and help us to grow if we don’t resist it, if we take it in the right way.

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IN PASSING
by Lisel Mueller

How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness

and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:

as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious

And I made a vow to keep going — to keep creating. Because that’s what Rob taught me. That’s what we do. That’s what we’re here for.

 

20 thoughts on “A Tribute to Rob Meurer

  1. Crystal

    That’s what we do, indeed. I’m so sorry you are facing another loss, Carolyn. This is a beautiful tribute to someone I would have liked to know. Thank you for sharing your memories of him with us.

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you for that, Crystal. Loss does increase the feeling/knowledge that life is precious.

      Reply
  2. Chuck Cooper

    Marvelous. When I was finished reading this I felt as if i knew him. Your gift to him of your artistry with words is very moving.

    Reply
  3. Denise

    Sigh. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. It must still be a shock. I hope writing a tribute to him eased your sadness, if only a little.

    Reply
  4. Via

    Thanks for sharing such a nice tribute of your friend. He has clearly left his mark on not only his craft but on the people that passed through his life.

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Via. He was a brilliant man with so much talent, one of those people who make it look so easy. But it wasn’t, of course, and so we all keep working!

      Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      He was a wonderful person. I’m happy I got to see Beth at church before my recital in October. She was rehearsing the kids in the sanctuary. I have so much admiration for her and Rob and Annie. So much love to you and Marilyn.

      Reply
  5. Antonia Malvino

    Wow. I feel sad I never met him. He sounds like a wonderful man in so many ways and such a contrast to others we see out there at the moment. Your words and expression were just beautiful and I loved the poem at the end too.

    Reply
  6. childofaslan

    Oh, honey, WOW! What an amazing guy! (You’re not kidding about Angelenos lending cars–what??) What a tragic too-soon loss! How serendipitous and beautiful that your paths crossed so recently and that you got to say to him much of what you wanted to say. And that Mueller poem…I’ll be back to read that some more.

    Reply
    1. cstuder0@gmail.com Post author

      Thank you, Ros. I heard that Mueller poem while listening to a podcast from the Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico — a talk with Natalie Goldberg and Wendy Johnson. A few days after writing this I ran into Beth, who was rehearsing the kids for the next production at the church. She is one beautiful soul. Love to you. Thank you for reading, dear friend.

      Reply
  7. Debbie

    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. I almost got through it without crying. Almost. So glad you made that vow to keep creating.

    Reply
  8. Denise

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. What a wonderful tribute you shared with all of us who did not have the pleasure of knowing him in person.

    Reply

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