There was an 1980’s version of Kiss Him Goodbye, sung by a Canadian acapella group which you may or may not remember. Marc Connors, the lead singer, had such a powerful tenor voice that he was able to sustained the high notes for at least thirty seconds.
Even Johnny Carson was blown away when the Nylons performed KISS HIM GOODBYE on his late-night show.
Tenor voices like that just don’t come along very often. However, we really appreciate them when they do.
During the winter of 1989 my husband came home with a new gadget that had recently hit the market: a portable CD player.
With feigned interest I allowed him to put the earphones on me. As he turned it on, I could not believe what my ears were hearing.
It was the first time I had ever heard music of such clarity. The music was fresh, acapella, overwhelming, and a delectable feast to the ears.
The song I was listening to was WILDFIRE from the new Nylons album ROCKAPELLA.
I was hooked
Immediately, I made the CD player, ROCKAPELLA CD and earphones my own.
He never saw them again.
Over the next few months, I collected all of the Nylon’s CDs and had committed the words to all of their songs to heart and memory.
Surely, you know some of them, (remakes included).
Up the ladder to the roof, Poison Ivy, Buy Back The Amazon, Combat Zone, This Island Earth, Up On The Roof… and my favourite BUSY TONIGHT…
One of the few songs which has been known to actually stop me from breathing for four whole minutes
For my wedding anniversary, my husband bought me tickets to see them at Lewiston’s Art Park, and yes, I was very excited.
However, as soon as we pulled in to the park we knew that something was wrong. With throngs of college students conducting sit-ins, and a dozen or so police vehicles keeping a close eye on them, we found ourselves in the middle of a developing protest.
As we pulled into a parking spot, I spotted camera crews racing towards a group of men that had just exited the theatre lobby.
“Wonder what’s going on there?” I said pointing to my left.
“It’s them,” my husband replied, “the Nylons.”
As we approached the developing circle of reporters I could see a tall, gaunt man watching the developments from afar. Marc Connors was the only Nylon not present at the press conference, so I quickly determined that he was the tall man watching from a distance.
What had happened was Art Park had cancelled the afternoon performance of the featured play because the performance included the burning of a bible. This affront to freedom of speech was not taken lightly, and the Nylons had announced that they would throw their support behind the protesters if the protesters would allow the Nylon’s performance to continue unencumbered.
Everyone walked away happy.
Everyone that is but the tall, gaunt man. He did not look happy as he slowly turned the other way and began to walk towards the deserted alternate entry.
Confused, I approached from behind and called out his name.
He stopped, turned around and looked at me.
My pending joy at meeting Marc Connors turned bittersweet as I could immediately tell that he was not well. His face and neck had been ravaged by Aids, a disease that had only come to my attention five years earlier.
Marc and I smiled at each other. As I acknowledged myself as a “big fan.” he only nodded sadly.
It was then that I held out my hand.
He looked long, hard at my hand before he held out his own. Only later, did I come to understand why he became teary as I touched and clasped his thin, yet warm hand.
Without a word, he then turned around and walked away.
Seeing him in such a weak state, I wondered if he was strong enough to perform.
But boy, did he ever.
He hit every note.
He danced with the exuberance of a teenager.
He never missed a beat.
And six months later he was gone.
In 2003, I watched the mini series ANGELS IN AMERICA written by Tony Kushner adapted to screen by Mike Nichols.
In the last few moments, the lead character Prior Walter (played by Justin Kirk) says to us, the audience…
“This disease will be the end of us but not nearly all.”
“The dead will be commemorated.”
“We will struggle on with the living.”
“We are not going away. We won’t die secret deaths any more.”
“The world only spins forward.”
“We will be citizens.”
“Our time has come.”
“The work begins.”
Now, ten years after the death of Marc Connors, not only does the work and struggle in the battle against Aids continue,
… so does the celebration of his life.