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Keep Houston Press Free
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Joseph Zawinful, R.I.P.

There have long been a handful of songs I assumed could have only been written by angels, not men. “Amazing Grace” tops that list, even though I know it was written by a self-loathing slave-trader.

One of the others is “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” a standard first recorded by Cannonball Adderley. I just figured that, at some point, the same winged creatures who zapped genius into Miles and Coltrane did so with him. Maybe they did, but it wasn’t until much later that I found out that this most amazing song was written by a dude with the peculiar name of Joseph Zawinul.

Zawinul died today in Vienna, his home. I’m sure he composed other brilliant music, but, to me, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” is not just great, but transcendent. It’s one of those songs whose melody is so sublime that probably not even Fred Durst could fuck it up. Well, maybe Fred Durst, but you get my point. Anyway, do yourself a favor and go listen to any version of “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” you can find. I promise it will lift your spirits.

RIP, Mr. Zawinul. – Craig Malisow

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