A Healing Moment With the Holy Man

The classic jazz stuff has always been my dad’s favorite music.  So I’ve been bringing my laptop down to the hospital and breaking out a lot of his faves lately.  It truly is music of the Gods… Miles, Duke, Dizzy, Monk, Bird.  My God, how we both love this stuff.

The first day of our “music therapy” featured Ellington at Newport – blistering live treatments of some timeless big band orchestrations as only Duke Ellington can do it.  He closes his eyes as he listens, just like he always used to… and not unlike a jazz musician in the middle of a solo… head lightly swaying, as if to reach way back in there for that inspired flurry of notes.   Then Miles Davis, Kind of Blue – “So What,” “Autumn Leaves.” “On Green Dolphin Street.”  Eyes still closed.  The atmosphere in the room has shifted, and we’ve established a cool new routine.

So the other night, I’m sitting in a chair to his immediate right as he lay in bed, under the covers.  My mom is on the other side near the foot of the bed talking to my aunt and uncle (his brother).  And again, the laptop is open and we’re scoping out some tuneage; Dizzy Gillespie, “Night in Tunisia,” along with some Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Max Roach – the cats.

The Holy Man

And then… the big daddy of them all; Coltrane.  In my opinion, there is no other music in the world that captures the voice of the Divine more than this guy.

John Coltrane left us early, at 40, 4 days after my 4th birthday.  But he was one of the genre’s greatest innovators – and greatest sax players – leaving us a towering legacy of incredible music.  Trane was also a devout seeker of spiritual wisdom and practice, which was reflected in his music, and even in certain record and song titles like A Love Supreme, Meditations, Om, Ascension, “Dear Lord,” and “Amen.”

And that Coltrane tone!  I realize the average listener would probably find much of Trane’s most adventurous stuff unlistenable – especially his later records.  But to me, his playing has always been healing, transcendent… like he was tapping into something from another world.  (I’m sure he was, actually.)  Coltrane’s music is like certain kinds of modern art; you either really get it, or you really don’t.  Those who do, experience a slight shift in consciousness every time they hear it.  Those who don’t, usually grimace in a lemon juice scowl and go palms-to-ears pronto.  The reaction can be that polarizing.

A Healing Moment…

Anyway… my dad gets it.  So I broke out Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” from 1961.  Timeless soprano sax magic from the tenor man.  There had been zero movement anywhere on his right side in the last 18 days.  Zero.  And now, as Trane comes pouring out of my laptop speakers like Tibeten incense… I see his right foot begin to move beneath the blanket; slowly, deliberately, back and forth, like he was tapping his foot in slow motion.  Over and over, with his eyes still tightly shut.  Everyone else in the room notices.  We try not to make too much of a fuss about it, so as not to disrupt him, but it’s hard not to.  We have movement!

And so we continue with Coltrane, the holy man.  The album Impressions – from my year of birth – with the band barreling through the title track like a tornado, and Trane soloing like he’s speaking in tongues.  (I love you, John Coltrane!)  Then “Greensleeves” and “Song From the Underground Railroad” from Africa-Brass.  More foot and leg movement… like three dozen times over the course of 30 minutes. You are the fucking man, Trane!  Keep it coming, my brother.  Testify.  Bear witness.  Let the Truth explode from your lungs.  Fill up this sterile little room in Panama City with your sweaty, smoky brilliance.

We are on our way back, and, wherever you are, we thank you.

And to all of you who have contributed to the staggering collective Light Energy surrounding my dad right now, we thank you, too.

As for the old man… obviously, a neurological connection has been reestablished between the music that he so loves and his visceral way of experiencing it… suggesting that things are continuing to reconnect up there.  Not sure what all this will mean on the longer term, but we’re grateful for all we can get at the moment.

Peace, and thanks again –


About Bobby Rock

Bobby Rock is a world renown drummer, the author of nine books, and a recognized health and fitness specialist with certifications in exercise, nutrition and meditation. He has recorded and toured with a variety of artists, released three CDs as a solo performer and is recognized as a top drumming educator. He is currently touring with rock icon, Lita Ford. Through speaking, writing and activism, Bobby remains committed to a number of animal and environmental causes. Bobby lives in Los Angeles.
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13 Responses to A Healing Moment With the Holy Man

  1. Parker says:

    You KNOW how I ❤ LOVE ❤ this…

    What a beautiful experience to share on so many levels, B. Thanks, in turn, for sharing it with us. Keep up the amazing efforts, we will keep the light shining, and, by all means possible, keep the Coltrane playing!


  2. Richard says:

    Music is so powerful, probably the personal, intense act a person can do. I think you just might have hit on the best course of rehab possible! Keep playing!

  3. Have been thinking of you and your folks a lot lately. So very pleased to hear this latest news. Today, my son is in the Persian Gulf and I know that somewhere, half-way around the world, he is listening to music we both love and it connects us. Always has, always will.
    God bless you and your Dad. My love to you both.

  4. Raven Roulete says:

    This was so inspiring Bobby. I am praying for you and your family as you suffer through this heart breaking trial. May God give you and your loved ones Peace and Hope . My father is now in his eighties and a Professional Jazz musician who still drags his upright bass with him as he still plays . He is called the “Time Keeper” He Recorded and played with The Big names. Buddy Rich , Dorsey Brothers to name a couple and he was the President of the Orlando Chapter of the Federation of Musicians for many years. He had all of the Disney Musicians on strike to make Disney World designate and design a place for the entertainers to rest as Disney treated the Entertainers badly in the early years . They did not even have a dressing room. My dad left a legacy . I know that Music has the Power to relieve pain and heal . It has never failed me. This is a Great Gift that you are doing for your father..

  5. Pam Leazer says:

    Bobby, may the great spirit watch over and heal ur father, i remember many of days and weeks sitting at the hospital with my mom and days that i could not, iworked at a hospital and she was a patient in another city…. it was hard, but i never really got to thank all the staff and the one special doctor who was straight forward (in a private room) with me & my family with the truth, no run arounds….and the staff was never rude or disrespectful….. not all medical are mean or disrespectful, and i’m very sorry that you and your family, had not so very nice staff… i learned the hard way, when they said not to get attached to your patients, because after working at the hospt., i worked at…. 3 months into my job and patients, i cried, i couldn’t take it… some of them went into _icu_ (the hardest), one expired, one in a coma, but i spoke with her every, well both really,only if it was 5 minutes, but my coma pt was in icu for 3 months or more, and she came out of it, and now every year since that year, which has been over 10 years, she invites me to her house for christmas…. sorry, for the long note…, when you get a chance , put your hand on your dads chest, and tell him you love him, or put his hand in yours a squeeze ever so gentle and talk to him…. and if there is a group of family and friends make a prayer circle around his bed,and pray. bobby, i send out thoughts and prayer to you and your family, and the great spirit to bless your father

  6. Cindy Englebert says:

    Bobby…my heart rejoices with you and your family. Whay you been playing for your father has bridged a gap and ministered to the very essence of his spirit. Amazingly the son has touched a place in his father that only you could have, you were chosen for this moment from the days of your youth! God BLESS YOU boobe and your family and may you continued to be inspired.

  7. Bobby, I am so proud that Bob has you and the thought of him going thur this trying time. I do know and beleive that when God brings you to it that he will also bring you thur it. The faith of a mustard seed can move mountains. Be strong and tell Bob that I am thinking about him and that I hold him up to the Lord. Love ya’ll. MJ

  8. Robin Bailey says:

    Awesome story Bobby. I wish you guys the very best.

  9. Henri says:

    Dear Bobby,

    In my humble opinion, music, or any artistic expression, coming deep from within is a prayer. Few can see, feel, or hear, the subtle timeless scripts therein.

    Wishing you and your family the very best,


  10. Bobby You are just an amazing Person, I LOVE YOU.. I am soo Happy that you are getting Dad to respond to Old School Music, He Sure Loves You, And He appreciates You.. I Hope all goes Well.. We in MN Love and Miss you.. Hugs to you..

  11. James Carey says:

    Beyond Awesome Bobby. You said it all and you said it so well. Goose bumps. You mentioned everyone of my favorite songs, starting with Ellington at Newport, not a month goes by that i don’t play that, Jimmy Hamilton’s clarinet opening still makes me sworn, Blues to be There is the coolest live recording of a big band ever, and when the band comes back after the sax solo in D&C, with the trumpets blazing I soar like a lucid dream. My best you your dad Bobby, tell him he’s raised one hell of a fine son.

  12. Jude Dotson says:

    Phenomenal drummer Bobby Rock left an indelible mark on my heart when we were 15; He broke up with me. But, he did it with such love and class that we’re still friends. Read this. He’s a rare rock and roll animal.

  13. Trevor says:

    George Benson!

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