Melbourne, November 2019

Today I heard Vaughn Benjamin was dead. For a moment, I became one perfect bubble, rippling in the light air, bursting its tears on the windows of a loud train. Let me tell you a story.

-so how are you going, man?
-i’m good
-you good?
-yeh I’m good, how are you?
-so where’r’you headed man?
-home
-where’s home?
-Parkdale
-and what’s there? (he says this with a thin smile)
-well I was thinking i would put on a CD and open a bottle of wine and listen to some music
-a CD! Ha. Who listens to CDs anymore…

And I think, okay. That’s a fair question. I’ve been thinking it myself, storer of boxes of CDs that rarely get disturbed, but tonight that’s going to change. I shift along the bench so I don’t have to stretch my voice and I tell him why I’ll be listening to compact discs tonight.

-So, I found out just before that a musician and poet I love died a couple of days ago. And so I thought, when I got home, that I would go digging through my CDs…
-oh, that’s a… really sweet… what’s his name?
-Vaughn Benjamin. The band is (was) Midnite. A reggae band from St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
-damian?
-Vaughn
-ronan? ronan benjamin?
-Vaughn. v, a, u,…
-you said midnight?
-m, i, d…
-ah yeh
-n, i, t, e…
He shoves an iPhone in my face and says, -that it?
-yep, that’s it.

All of a sudden, i feel a wave of gratitude for being given the opportunity to tell this story right now. To share this music.

-i’ll listen to your music, man, he says.

We part ways at Caulfield and now I’m home. I’m pulling CDs out of a box. Trance, blues, jazz, Shpongle, Shostakovich. Midnite. I select LIVE for that version of Rasta Man Stand, and for I Chant. And I saw a black lion / walking out of the sun / he was a dreadlock one...

Hours later, years later, unceasingly, I’ve gone back to the box for more.

 

More details about Vaughn Benjamin (1969 – 2019), via reggae-vibes.com