Six months after I met Peter he began a life at WNEW that would change not only his life but the lives of countless thousands of listeners. Peter became many things to many people. To some he was a confidant, to some he was a musical genius, to some he was an inspiration, to some he was a writer. He played countless other personal and professional roles. But that’s not the gift he gave to us. It was profoundly simpler and more personal. It wasn’t a gift you could buy or give to someone. It was uniquely his gift to us.
Peter became a precious work of art that had to be experienced on the grandest of all stages. But it wasn’t on a stage or at a concert that most of us met and loved him. We met sitting in front of a radio while he was having a musical conversation with us. He did most of the talking. It wasn’t a call-in show, but he simply knew what we were thinking and feeling. He weaved music into our lives. He made connections for us and brought our minds and emotions to places where we could laugh, ponder, or cry. You see, Peter always told me that radio was intensely personal. He played and spoke to each one of us as if we were actually the only one listening. We all came to believe that he knew who we were personally, cared for us individually and he became our best friend. Such was his legacy, such was his gift to us all.
Because of his gift, each of us will remember him and cherish him for the rest of our lives. He and I both loved the song “Old Friends” on the S&G album “Bookends”. When I turned 70 last year, Peter was insistent that we find someone to take a picture of us sitting on a park bench. We did! He felt it would celebrate the lyric from the song which read:
Sat on their park bench like bookends
Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench, quietly
How terribly strange to be 70.
I don’t know how to say goodbye to my old friend. As for all of us, it is an intensely personal and soulful act. I thank Paul Simon for giving me the words from last lines of the Old Friends song:
A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.
Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I love you. Until we meet again.