Thursday, December 01, 2005

In Memory of Dax Johnson, Part 2...

If you haven't read my first post about Dax yet, you might want to take a look at that before reading what follows. That first post is really more my tribute to Dax. This is more of a follow up.

It's been a week and a day now since my good friend, pianist Dax Johnson died. I am still numb from it. Today I flew up to Spokane, Washington for the memorial service and I am so glad I did. This seems odd to say, but I felt close to him there. I think it was, in great part, because I was surrounded by people whom he loved and who loved him. I wasn't alone with my grief - I could share it. It was just a wonderful time to celebrate who Dax was and the many lives he touched.

I wanted to use this forum to share a couple things from that memorial service with you. First, here is a music video of Dax which features his unreleased vocal song Bright Eyes. This tribute was shown at the memorial service. In addition, here is a twelve minute video montage, also shown at the service, of Dax's life in pictures. The first song used in that is "Deliver Me" by the David Crowder Band, and the second is "Blessed to be a Witness" by Ben Harper. The remainder of the songs are unreleased vocal tracks by Dax, which I presume are from the album he was working on in LA when he died.

The videos are both very touching, especially Bright Eyes, which I can't watch without becoming very emotional. You know, every person has gestures, facial expressions, quirks, that make them uniquely who they are. And when I watch this video, and see Dax looking right into the camera, it's just so.... REAL. I mean, this was Dax, and this is who I remember talking to and sitting and chatting with. The same facial expressions, the same impish grin, the same laughter, the same gestures, the same gentle giant (Dax was really tall) - so many of them captured here on film forever and for the last time.

I want to express my most sincere condolences to Dax's family - his wife and children, sisters and brother, and parents and grandparents who survive him. I know that my grief is nothing next to yours. Although I knew Dax for nearly ten years, when you add up all the time we spent together, both on the telephone and in person, it probably adds up to less than two days. Two short days... spread out over ten years. Really, that isn't much time - is it? Then why I do feel like I've lost one of my closest friends?

It's hard to say. To be honest, I don't understand it. I keep thinking that I shouldn't be grieving as much as I am. All I know is that Dax and I really "got" each other, and we just had a "connection." But even in making that statement, I feel a bit selfish, because I think just about everyone who met Dax and spent any amount of time with him felt that connection, too. Dax just connected with people - it was part of the magic of who he was. He made others feel special and amazing and good about themselves. It is so ironic, because Dax really didn't like himself very much. He was always ready to put himself down, to dismiss himself and his abilities, and yet when you were with him he made you feel like you were someone very special.

It was good to meet Dax's mother, Dee Johnson, at the memorial service. She has a very gentle, knowing way about her. It was obvious that she is a very wise woman. I could see it in her eyes. She surprised me by saying that she was honored I came to the service. I didn't know what to say to that, because really, I was just so thankful to be there. I mean, I HAD to be there.

And Dax's father - Tom - I simply shook his hand without saying too much, but it was I who was honored to meet him. He spoke on the topic of Understanding Dax at the service and the words he spoke were the exact words I needed to hear. Thank you, Tom, for sharing what you did about your son. For speaking the truth, even painfully, about Dax's life of wandering.

And Maka, my friend, I am so glad Dax introduced us all those years ago. Stangely, I expect that our lives are inexorably tied together now - even more so now that your brother Dax is gone. In a way, I feel Dax would be very happy if we filled some part of that empty space he left in our lives with each other.

What I was most pleased about at the memorial service, was how much time was spent focusing on Dax's faith and belief in Jesus. I knew that Dax was a believer, and a Christian, but I never really knew, until yesterday, the depth of his faith. I take much solace in knowing that Dax is experiencing a greater joy at this very moment than he ever did while walking the pathways of this shattered world.

This was a day I needed - a day to just spend remembering, appreciating, and even getting to better know Dax. His was the only music I listened to on this day. And I spent the Day reflecting on Psalm 91 - a Psalm that I shared with Dax - a Psalm about taking refuge under the shadow of God's protection. It was a day for Dax, a day of remembrance, a day of prayer and a day of tears. I will remember this day for the rest of my days.

This will be my last blog about Dax. I don't want to dwell on this grief any more - at least not publicly. But if there is any additional news of interest to post about Dax, I will certainly do that. I will do my part to keep his memory and his music alive for others to experience.

David Nevue
http://www.davidnevue.com

16 Comments:

Anonymous darnesha said...

He seems like a really great guy. I think your tribute is so special.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Rich & Joyce Swingle said...

Lifting up you and Dax's family. In Jesus' Name.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Rena Gunnerson-Bunting said...

It was late '98 or early '99 when I started writing for SFCC, our college paper. I had done a write up on a sensational coffee bar in my neighborhood and the owner invited me back to hear the pianist they just hired. I phoned later that week and made an appointment.
As my eyes adjusted to the dim coffee bar I focused in on who I hoped would be my interview--tall, dark and handsome--a hottie! I would learn quickly that this "hottie" had depth and charm. I was half in love with him 5 minutes into the interview. I had to wait until that night to hear him play.
He was already playing when I walked in and I found myself floating to him on the sound of his music. I was totally lost in the emotions he played. I would be a lifetime fan.
If you knew Dax, or ever worked with him, you know that his show was just that, his show. As an amature writer/publicist I had some novel ideas, and we dispersed them one by one. He would go on, be and live who he is. He never wanted any glamour.
I remember afternoons of hanging out listening to him play barefoot, visiting with Holly and watching Emma play.
Everytime we visited, or worked, Dax made me feel IMPORTANT. I wasn't. He was and he spent some time sharing himself with me.
I tried to keep touch over the years, he always joked about pretentiousness in stars. One time I got fed up with the silence from his website and wrote a scathing message about royalties and such. I knew that would get his attention because he really wasn't a snob, or forgetfull.
Sure enough a few days later came my return e-mail...
"Come on Rena, you know I would never forget you. I'm just busy you know how that is...Dax"
No need for more. I know how busy he is. But that was Dax, just when he though he hurt my feelings he took time out to make me feel IMPORTANT once again.
I played his music at my wedding, and still have the articles I wrote in college about him.
I will miss sharing this earth with Dax. I'll miss looking for him here in Spokane at the coffee bar he went to.
My condolences to Dax's family.

He was magic!

6:12 PM  
Blogger croyer said...

I never knew Dax but his music has inspired me through many nights alone up late painting. I first saw him in a mall here in Portland, OR and immediately bought 2 of his CD's. There is something powerful about his music and I will always regret that I never went to see him live. Many thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and fans like myself.

12:22 AM  
Blogger croyer said...

Hello Dax Johnson family,
I just wanted to write because I was and still am a HUGE fan of Dax
Johnson. His music inspires me to paint. There are not many artitsts
where I would purchase a CD without even listening to all the songs, but
his music is so inspirational. I was drawn to him the first time I
heard him in Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. I purchased two CD's on
the spot. His music has carried me through stressful days when I just
need to take it down a level and chill out. I've spent many hours lost
in my art world painting to his music, wondering what he was thinking
as he wrote my favorite songs Emma Rain and Hezikiah.

I don't know who is reading this but I just wanted to express my
sympathy and prayers to you and your family and friends. I am deeply
saddened by this loss and randomly found out while sending his website to a
friend. I was recommending his music to a friend of mine. I will now
cherish his CD's forever.

In my thoughts and prayers,
Crystal

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dax Johnson family,
I just wanted to write because I was and still am a HUGE fan of Dax
Johnson. His music inspires me to paint. There are not many artitsts
where I would purchase a CD without even listening to all the songs, but
his music is so inspirational. I was drawn to him the first time I
heard him in Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. I purchased two CD's on
the spot. His music has carried me through stressful days when I just
need to take it down a level and chill out. I've spent many hours lost
in my art world painting to his music, wondering what he was thinking
as he wrote my favorite songs Emma Rain and Hezikiah.

I don't know who is reading this but I just wanted to express my
sympathy and prayers to you and your family and friends. I am deeply
saddened by this loss and randomly found out while sending his website to a
friend. I was recommending his music to a friend of mine. I will now
cherish his CD's forever.

In my thoughts and prayers,
Crystal

12:27 AM  
Blogger cupajotogo said...

David,

Thanks for the tribute to Dax. I still have the memorial bulletin hanging up next to my computer at work...Something about looking at it sober's and moves me. Dax played at my wedding nearly 10 years ago. We were better friends then then in recent years but it never felt like our relationship waned. He was off pursuing his music career and I was busy becoming a family man. We always picked right up where we left off though and Lisa (my wife) and I would always run into him in downtown Spokane...We have always loved him. Always will. Take care.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met Dax a few years ago while walking thrugh the mall on a very sad day. A day my wife left me for good. As I approached Dax's music I was mezmorized. I love piano and play myself, but this was unreal, the notes andchords and fiery tempo with sadness and excitement all at once, I was suddenly lifted up and put in a place where I felt God had placed this moment in my life to relax and rest in his love. I had to meet this guy! So as I walked towards the music I was a little shocked to see this big man with long hair and tatoos playing while swaying his body and moving to the music, feeling the music!
Dax also would lean forward on hispiano bench so that only the front legs were touching as he rocked back and forth, interestingly! I spoke to him for a moment, telling him how much his music meant to me, he signed the CD for me and encouraged me to keep playing piano myself and even asked me to send him someday my music! I was flattered, though I knew I never would and couldn't come close to Dax's genius, I was struck by his love and compassion and ability to make even a perfect stranger feel so important! I retreated back and just listened for a while and later went to the foodcourt. While I was waiting in line for coffee, a strong hand grabs my shoulder and shakes me hard, I turned a little scared and startled...it was Dax with a huge grin...and we made some conversation for a moment.Again making me feel better without even knowing my pain that day...maybe just sensing it. I will always hold his music in high regard as the master he was, even spreading his name and music to all those I meet and love piano, but it was his person and caring attitude that still impresses me when I think about him. We wil miss you Dax.
Mike

11:49 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

I'd seen Dax at a mall, and yes he was magic there. I was one of the ones buying up his CD's. For some reason they'd gotten put away. I found them recently and decided to look him up and see if there were any more. The first site I found with his name in it was yours. I was devastated to find out that he'd died. For some reason I only saw the first part that you'd written. I'd gone on to find the site dedicated to Dax on Myspace and ended up buying the newest CD that the family had been able to put together. My heart was so heavy I decided to come back here and read what you'd written. It was then I found the second part and I was in tears when I found out that he was a Christian. My heart had been so heavy because I'd been afraid that he wasn't a Christian. Thank you so much for writing all of this about Dax!
Now I'm going to have to check out your CD's as well! I do believe I already have one but want to support you, too!

11:54 PM  
Blogger Criddy said...

I saw Dax for the first time at the mall in Olympia, WA. I had quite the same experience as you did - I was very drawn to him. I heard his music playing and had to find where it was coming from. I watched him in awe for quite some time, and purchased one of his CD's. I couldn't get enough of it, and had to buy another! At the time, he only had his first two CD's out. I had not listened to him for quite a while, and thought to look him up today and see what new music he had out. I was baffled to see he had passed away. Your tribute is lovely, thank you for posting it.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time I ever heard Dax was at the North Town Mall in Spokane Wa and his music drew me in and I watched from the 2nd floor of of the mall, I just sat and listened and watched. It was AMAZING, I dindn't even rally enjoy piano msuic, but I sat overhead and listened. I loved it! Then a while later, I met my boyfriend and we were walking through the Portland Mall I heard him playing, I said "you're going to think I'm crazy but I swear that guy used to play at Northtown" so we went downstairs and on our ride down, we saw a big blown up article from the Spokesman Review. We went and listened to hin play for a little while and we talked to Dax and we bought the Random and the Purpose CD. Dax signed it and when we got into the car to go back to the hotle, we put in the CD, I read the cover and cried. It was so beautiful and touching.

Me and my boyfriend went through our ups and downs, but when Dax played at the Met in Spoakne, we went and saw him perform, we both cried so much! It was AMAZING!! We listened to the one and only CD we had and loved it every time! We made it through the hard times and are still together today, 7 years later. We listened to our CD often and I swear it got through some of the worst time of our life.

Dax's music inspired us in so many different ways, I can't even begin to explain! I feel that the world losing Dax was an incredible tradegy, not only for the music that he played but for the family and friends that he left behind.

I hope that everybody has adjusted to life without him, he will live on forever in so many lives!!! He and his music were incredible inspirations to many and I tell everybody I can about the amazing talent that he had.

God bless everybody that had the wonderful opportunity of knowing him.

RIP Dax! We love you!

This message is LONG overdue, I just felt it needed to be written so everybody knew that he hasn't been forgotten!

3:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dax you were the kind of person i would have liked to meet

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there :) I found Dax Johnson by chance and figured out he is the best pianist for me ever! His songs are so strong as I listen to them... Did Dax have some DVD or concert to watch how he played?

1:20 PM  
Blogger David Nevue said...

There used to be a DVD... but I don't think it's available any more... and I don't see any of his (few) live concert videos up on YouTube unfortunately.

7:35 PM  
Blogger xsam22 said...

I am stunned. I was just loading 2 of Dax's CD's into my iTunes when I got to wondering what he is doing now. I can't believe it's been nearly 7 years since he passed and I'm just finding out about it. I remember being transformed as I listened to him play at the Old Church in Portland, OR in 2003, I believe. I instantly bought 2 of his CD's that day. He was amazing. I sit here now listening to "Merciful Dwelling" in remembrance of his brilliance. My condolences on the loss of your dear friend.

Sam

7:21 PM  
Blogger Elaine Morgan said...

I just found Dax Johnson this morning, of all things through a video that I watched about hummingbirds feeding. I went on the search for whose amazing music was being played in the video. I've been consumed today with finding out about this artist whose music sent chills through me like I've never felt before.

I've had a hard time holding back the tears as I've read about Dax's life and listened to his music today. He looks so eerily like my brother who died in a plane accident in 1982. Maybe that has brought the emotions to the surface. Even with the sadness, I'm glad I found Dax today and learned a bit about his life. His music has touched me deeply.

Thank you for sharing a small part of the friendship that you had with Dax and especially the link to the videos played at his memorial (which by the way, both links go to the same video). My sincere condolences for the loss of your dear friend.

1:18 PM  

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