What Charlie Haden may still love most: a pretty song: This Boston Globe
review of a recent performance by the beloved and lyrical 65-year old bassist catalogues his recent health misfortunes:
Despite his youthful appearance and impressive stamina, Haden has had a rough time lately, and the facial expressions might reflect or relieve his pain. A few years ago, he had back surgery, necessitated by decades of bending over his bass, at an almost perfectly perpendicular angle, to hear the notes more clearly. While in the hospital, he nearly died of pneumonia.
Shortly after, he and his wife, the singer Ruth Cameron, were attacked by a Rottweiler outside their home in Malibu. The dog bit Haden on his left hand, between the thumb and forefinger. He underwent extensive physical therapy and couldn’t play for three months.
”It still hurts,” Haden says, especially when he moves his hand up and down the neck of the bass, which he does most of the time.
Then there’s his longtime bout with tinnitus, which causes ringing in his ears, and hyperacusis, which heightens the perceived volume of sounds. He’s learned to ignore the ringing, and surrounds himself with plexiglass when he plays with horns or drums.
Doctors have told him he shouldn’t play at all anymore. ”But I’ve got to pay the mortgage,” Haden says in his soft, slightly high-pitched voice. ”And” – he pauses – ”I’ve got to play.”