Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Art Dudley - you are missed already

I was horribly surprised by the news today that Art Dudley, audio columnist for Stereophile and former chief of the Listener has died from cancer. In a small way it makes no sense that a stranger with whom my only interactions were as passive recipient of his monthly articles should have such an  effect on me but tonight I cannot help mourn the loss. Many audio writers are dull, a few are entertaining, fewer still are also informative. Stereophile in recent years seems to have cornered the market on the subset who provide fun with insight, but even still, Art was in another league.

I don't quite know if it was the turn of phrase, which undoubtedly was delightful, or if it was the love he communicated for great music and great design, regardless of fashion, time, or supposed relevance that made him feel like a friend, a couple of drinks in, telling you what he really felt about life, art and why the two matter. His was the column I both turned to first and yet put off reading immediately so that I could savor it at leisure. And many of his writings I've read more than once because the strength of his work ensured that it warranted and rewarded multiple engagements. I've sold old copies of Absolute Sound, but I keep back issues of the Listener and Stereophile largely because of him. An edited collection of his work would not be out of place.  And yes, even this week as I considered the value in refreshing my old Naim Nait, it was Art's piece from a few years back that I referred to when weighing the cost. Was his presence felt in those final days?

I never imagined the death of an audio writer would reduce me to tears but this evening, when I read the news while I worried if my stereo was sounding as good as it should, my breath stopped for a second and I genuinely felt a deep loss. To his wife and family I send my deepest sympathies, but to all of us, the world is a little dimmer now that Art is no longer among us. A name was rarely more appropriate, he was indeed Art.

Lots of comments and videos out there - this is one of my favorites as it's the nearest we'll all get to sitting down with him to listen.


Unknown said...

Patrick, very moving tribute. I feel the exact same way. I was completely miserable yesterday. Art's death hit me harder than any musician, which I was not expecting. When I first started getting serious about hifi, I used to wish I could have a system just like Art Dudley's. I no longer feel this way, but I still want to hear music as Art heard it. He had a way of writing about a component that was inspirational without coming across as a shill. Even though I only own maybe one component he reviewed (a Dynavector 10x5 cartridge), his influence on my system and how I listen was huge. And his columns usually made me chuckle. I will miss him terribly.

PatrickD said...

Thank you, fellow listener. Your words sum it up, he was a very special writer and I find it hard to imagine another filling that void. That touch of humanity makes his death all the more poignant.