Overtom's weblog

LOST FRIEND  (12 march 2004)

It must have been in the late sixties when I first met Jack. 

To me, Jack was a most charming and sensitive person. He had a lot of imagination and a great sense of humour. Later, I learned that he had received a national prize for his music. And later still, he told me he suffered from schizophrenia.

Jack made music in a way I have only heard from the greatest. He had no formal musical training, but he was so rich in musical ideas that this was no problem at all. Many Dutch jazz musicians loved to play with him.

He once explained to me how he saw the piano. To him, the piano was a kind of orchestra and he assigned special rôles to its parts, for instance there was a part that he called bazuinen - which is a biblical word for trumpets.

Both he and I were loners. That may be the reason why we got on well. Later when I learned to know him better, he told me about the voices in his head, which seemed to give him commands.

Jack got drugs for his schizophrenia, but he felt the pills took away an important part of his personality. So he often did not take them.

As we all did then - Jack started smoking pot, but it seemed to have an adverse effect on his mental state. An additional effect was that his musical creativity did not exactly get any better when he was playing 'under the influence'. 

We have drunk quite a few bottles of wine together. Later, when I got married and moved to another city, I lost sight of him. But I heard that his drinking had got out of hand and he led an irregular kind of life.

One day when my (ex-)wife was approaching our home, she heard piano music inside the house. When she entered the house, she saw nobody at the piano. Then she realized it could not have been me - I didn't play that well!

Later, I heard that on that very day Jack had thrown himself in front of a train.

I still think of him a lot. He was probably the most sensitive man I've ever met.

I was surprised not to find any trace of his name on the Internet. After all, he had been one of the most gifted musicians in the Netherlands.

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