Among recent obituaries, what about Teddy Pendergrass? Traditional obit writing always seems to fall down with great musicians, and the Pendergrass passing is no exception. The ledes have trouble summing up a sound. The story bodies have trouble charting all the albums and songs. Overall meaning gets lost. So, you have to pick and choose.
NPR’s lede is best: “Teddy Pendergrass cheated death at least once.”
Further in, the Post has a highlight but only by quoting a NYT Pareles concert review. “Compared with current rhythm-and-blues Romeos, Mr. Pendergrass was a soft-focus seducer, never calling for anything more explicit than sharing a shower. But when he moaned or insisted, ‘Let me do what I want to do,’ everyone knew what he meant.”
Then you pause to create your own obit, and listen to the sultry Turn Off the Lights, ridiculous but supremely confident, on YouTube.
Pendergrass came to Gottlieb, a therapist and Inky columnist, after the infamous car accident that left him quadriplegic. What Pendergrass knew was that Gottlieb had also been paralyzed in a car wreck, a few years earlier. What he didn’t know was Gottlieb was having the same dark feelings about life. The therapy became a partnership of sorts.