Chicago deejay, storyteller and unassuming cultural shaman Lin Brehmer died last Sunday, at 68, generating the most full-throated, universally heartbroken celebrity sendoff I’ve ever seen from this town, and I’ve seen a few.
I knew Lin just a little—no kind of boast, because it seems to me that out of our 2.7 million residents, Lin knew about two million.
My central memory of Lin is this: Shortly after my young daughter Scout and I returned from a road trip to Montana a decade ago, she and I were in my friend Paul Engleman’s backyard for a party. Paul and Lin were pals, having coached their kids in little league baseball.
Paul mentioned to Lin that Scout and I had spent most of those miles listening to Joni Mitchell, to which Scout had sung through the sunroof, at the top of her lungs. And suddenly, Chicago’s great famous music man was thrilled that this one 10-year-old girl had discovered Joni Mitchell. Lin leaned in and asked her excitedly which songs she liked the best, and tried unsuccessfully to convince her to sing one of them at the living-room hootenanny that followed.
Well, Lin, Scout sang this one a couple of years ago—on one mournful, lonely teenage quarantined evening, using Joni Mitchell to give herself what you might call “divine solace.” It goes out to you, and everyone who loved you. Which, if you live in Chicago, feels like everyone, period. May your fine soul live on in all of ours.