Chuck and Jimmy

And now they’re dead.

Photo: Missouri History Museum

As a certain kind of America passes away so that a meaner, uglier one can be born it is still something of a surprise when the remnants of the earlier era shuffle off, if only because it reminds us that they walked the same earth as we did (and are lucky to get off of it before the real horror comes down). There’s plenty to read about the passing of Chuck Berry and Jimmy Breslin if you are so interested — and you should be: We’re busy murdering the word “iconic” by applying it to anything that has lasted longer than ten minutes, but these are two actual icons, legends who spawned legions of imitators, men whose innovations were so profound that it is impossible to notice their influence in the world anymore because even those they influenced have themselves inspired imitation —but here are a couple of places to start.

These Times obits (Berry, Breslin) are also worth a read, and here are collections (Berry, Breslin) of their greatest hits.