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The great Howard Merritt

Thursday 3/26/20

Wanted to take a moment and do a post about my buddy Howard Merritt of Providence. He's a great person, and he's helped me out a lot over the past few years making music available to me. He's awesome at finding stuff, he hooks me up with links, and he's just an all-around smart guy and he's an excellent writer, too, the kind of person who becomes someone you look to and value for the whole of your life, once you meet him.

I met Howard back in 2013 after I did a piece for The Atlantic on the Beatles BBC recordings of 1963. He writes about the Beatles a lot on his blog, which you should definitely check out. Note the funny name, right? Pee-Pee Soaked Heckhole. He'd sent me a note saying that because of the piece he had an upswing in traffic, which was really nice of him to do, and I figured that was that. Not too long after, I was giving a reading at the Harvard Coop, and this guy comes over after with this big smile on his face, like we were old friends. I love people like that. You don't meet a lot of them in life. They're just instantly ingratiating. It has to do with their energy, their decency, their character. They are people you want to know. But I had no clue who this dude was. He says he's Howard, and as someone told me after, my face--even with everything I was going through even back then--just lit up and I said, "Pee-pee Soaked Heckhole!" He drove up for my reading, and we've talked ever since. And when I gave a talk at the Brattle on The Magnificent Ambersons, he drove up for that, too, and I have always been grateful for his support.

A couple Christmases ago I got us tickets to a theatrical production of A Christmas Carol down in Providence, and Howard came bounding over again, a man so full of life. He was in the Navy, he knows his film noir, his literature, his Orson Welles, so much music. He said to me once that he can find nearly anything. I was a little dubious, but it's true, I think there has been like one album--the complete Fantasy recordings of Bill Evans--I have ever asked Howard to track down and he's not been able to help me out. And right now, with money being what it is, he's a huge, huge help.

I don't know if he's a big Sam Cooke fan, but if he is (I shall find out), I'd like to dedicate the 33 1/3 book to him, or if not, then my first Beatles book when I do that. He's a great dad, his kids are so full of life as well and well-rounded and talented and thriving, and I just think the world of this man and have so much respect for him. Do read his blog, he's honestly a good writer, witty, knows his stuff, his page is a trove.


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