Alan Arkin Leaves Us - With Himself
Recently, Takamine lost a dear friend with the passing of the multifaceted and amazingly talented Alan Arkin – a loss that has left us deeply saddened and more than a little sentimental.
We came to know Alan when he appeared in a 1997 Takamine print-ad with legendary John Scofield – and you may well wonder how Alan ended up in that ad.
Scofield’s now essential, 1996 all-acoustic album, Quiet had just been released which featured his Takamine NP65C (similar to current P3FCN). So, we asked John to be the artist focus of an installment of Takamine’s classic, Think Acoustic – Live Electric - Play Takamine ad series - and it was Scofield who suggested his guitar-playing neighbor, Alan Arkin as a possible addition to the mix.
Who would say no to that?
And so it was that John Scofield and Alan Arkin would find themselves jamming away at the Scofield dining-room table as photographer, Jeff Sacks framed them in the living-room archway and clicked away, making for arguably the coolest / warmest Takamine ad ever produced.
Thus, the connection between Alan Arkin and Takamine AR was made - and for the following 26 years it would be faithfully maintained.
It is perhaps more commonly known now than before that Alan’s career in the entertainment business began not as an actor but as a member of the Tarriers, a folk trio who scored a hit with “The Banana Boat Song / Day O”, a later version of which would become Harry Belafonte’s signature song.
And even though the acting bug would eventually steal him away from the burgeoning late 50’s NYC folk scene, it was Alan’s musical side that remained at the heart of his essence and was the basis of our longstanding relationship.
In those 26 years, hundreds of emails would be exchanged, mostly discussing, or sharing music, seldom if ever about acting, almost always crafted for a laugh - observations ranging from the transcendent nature of Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto to the only slightly-less-blissful, Pachelbel Canon performed by a rubber chicken on YouTube.
Alan loved guitar, particularly nylon strings and owned a TC135SC. But for at least the last 15 years or so Alan’s instrument of choice was the Ukulele (or yuke as he referred to it) and one of his favorite pastimes was recording and sharing uke / vocal renditions of one song or another. One email might contain a uke/vocal performance of an American songbook classic like As Time Goes By, the next, an original freewheeling stream-of-conscious nugget like the more recently submitted Evidence at My Insanity Trial where his grumpily astute observations of the selfie generation are put to song – sort of.
Alan was a warm, caring, wickedly intelligent sweetheart of a man with an unencumbered, truth-seeking spirituality that he regularly maintained by “meditating my ass off”. He had a deep appreciation for sincerity and truth and a finely tuned BS detector. And of course, a unique, God-given gift for finding humor in just about everything.
In his obit, his family referred to him as a force of nature. That comes close to describing the void Alan’s physical absence leaves. But from the loving gift of his body of work, Alan Arkin leaves with us his beloved spirit and essence - forever.
Pretty neat trick, Alan. See you next time around.