I’ve been a longtime fan of The Popes out of North Carolina. My cousin Steven Ruppenthal was one of the prinicipals in said group, and went on to play in bands (with some of the same people) such as Stumble, The Lovely Lads, and more recently The Public Good.
It is heartbreaking to realize that Steve has departed this world. Our friends and family learned Friday that he’d passed away following a drowning accident. The last few days have been full of pain and emotions. Sadness, anger, frustration, to name just a few.
On a sunny Sunday in Washington, DC, I spent the afternoon like I spent a great deal of weekend days in the 1980s: pushing a lawnmower, sweating sunblock into my eyes. Headphones cranked up. Loud.
The songs of Steve’s bands rang through my ears just as they have since their first release back in the late part of 1988. My eyes watered up as the legendary 1-2 punch of Charmless faded right into Marilyn from Hi We’re The Popes. And instantly I was a teenager again, tuned in to the music of my life. Music that seemed to describe much of my life for quite a long time. It still does, actually.
My nose began running (allergies) but I kept on working. Singing along.
Steve always had an opinion or interest in anything to do with music, and I loved talking about it with him. We’re all going to miss him immensely.
If you have not heard Hi We’re The Popes or the work of any of the bands linked above, here is a link to track 1: Charmless by The Popes