Ed Cherney

It’s in the luck of the draw, baby
The natural law
Forget those movies you saw, little baby
It’s in the luck of the draw

I first met Ed at Mike Greene’s house on June 5, 2010, I remember because it was the date of the Belmont Stakes, Ed wanted to know how I was doing with my leukemia.

Ed cared. He asked me every time I saw him.

And I complimented him on the sound of “Luck Of The Draw.”

It’s rare for an act to exceed their peak later in their career, but that’s what Bonnie Raitt did. Her best LP was her second, 1972’s “Give It Up,” she never equaled it in her run at Warner Brothers. Then she jumped to Capitol and had a massive hit with “Nick Of Time.” Ed engineered that. He partnered up with producer Don Was, they were a team, they even worked with the Rolling Stones. But despite the Grammys and radio success, the follow-up, 1991’s “Luck Of The Draw,” was even better. The tracks most people know are the singles, “Something To Talk About” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” but as good as they are, they’re not the best cuts on the album. No, those are the “One Part Be My Lover” and the title cut.

One part be my lover, one part go away

That was my ex-wife. The story of Bonnie and her husband Michael O’Keefe resonated with me. My ex dreamed of staying married and living apart. But then she was gone.

But I resonated even more with “Luck Of The Draw.”

You turn around and say it’s last orders
You fix the ribbon in your hair
Tomorrow’s letter by the hall doorway
Could be the answer to your prayers

I played this all through the nineties, you need hope, you need to hang on to make it, this was my anthem.

But every cut on “Luck Of The Draw” sounded stupendous, like “Not The Only One.” And “Slow Ride.” And “Come To Me.” I used to fire up the album on the big rig and luxuriate in the sound. Right now I’m listening to it on Amazon Music HD, and you should too.

Now in these days after his death you’ll learn that Ed not only worked with Bonnie and the Stones, but a who’s who of acts from Clapton to Dylan to… He even did the sound for the Grammy telecast.

But the Grammys and the hits won’t keep you warm at night.

Your personality and your friends will.

Unlike most engineers, too many people behind the board, Ed Cherney was not afraid to speak the truth. Well, at least not to me. It’s rare that you connect with people in this world, that you can be friends, but I felt this resonance with Ed. He never self-promoted, he was always interested in me, he shot straight and we talked not only about music, but…

We went to Rio together last year. Ate dinners together. Everybody would be talking, but then it would just end up us two. I got Ed’s whole life story, from starting in Chicago, after college, yes, Ed was a college graduate, to working with Bruce Swedien to Q to…

Ed married Rose, they couldn’t have kids, but they had a large family, of studio rats, players, all those involved in the production of music.

At first it was supposed to be a clot, something from traveling too much.

But then they drained fifteen pounds of fluid from Ed’s chest and he got scared. This was back in May, June. He wanted to die. I told him life was worth hanging on to. Irving and I worked to get him the best care. Ed stayed with his Cedars-Sinai team. They weren’t sure what kind of cancer it was, two rounds of chemo didn’t work, Ed just went to the City of Hope, but it was too late.

Maybe it was always too late. Like in that Bonnie Raitt song, Ed was not forever, he was just for today.

But now that day has passed.

Ed’s mood brightened when he started on the anti-depressants. But then he got to the point where he couldn’t work. It was going in the wrong direction, he was making peace with his destiny, but not really, he was only 69, he had so much left to do. He had his room at the Village, he and Jeff were buds, he was mixing, although he’d given up producing, he told me unless you write the songs there’s no money in it anymore.

Now Ed did smoke. What effect that had I do not know. But if you’re lucky, you’ll live long enough to want to live longer, you’ll start to get concerned about your health, at least you should be. Two shining examples are David Letterman and Bill Clinton. After their heart troubles both changed their diets and adhered to the rules, they want to live.

We were going to do a podcast. But Ed was never healthy enough between rounds of chemo. Now it’s too late. I wanted to get his story down. Because Ed could tell it, he was not tongue-tied, he could speak.

So for the past few days I’ve been in a daze, moving in the wrong direction. I’m trying to metabolize Ed’s death. I can’t look at the pictures in the news stories, because I know that guy, I can’t believe I’m never gonna talk to him again, get an e-mail, connect in text.

Ed made an impression on me.

And he made an impression on this world. It’s not only “Luck Of The Draw,” Ed worked on truly classic albums, that will stand the test of time. Hell, you may not even know his name, but you know his work.

These things we do to keep the flame burnin’
And write our fire in the sky
Another day to see the wheel turnin’
Another avenue to try

Ed hit the end of the road. But you have not. Ed wrote his fire in the sky, I know he would want you to write yours.

Ed Cherney

Comments are closed