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David Egan: Singer-Songwriter (March 20, 1954 — March 18, 2016)

David Egan.
Denny Culbert
David Egan.

Our afternoon with David Egan at KRVS in Lafayette is one of my favorite afternoons, ever. Having listened to nearly all of what he’d written or recorded, I’d come from New Orleans with an iPod filled with Egan songs and a pile of questions.

Egan didn’t rush his answers, which may be why we spent hours together in the studio. He sat at the piano, with a no-ticeable disinterest in playing. But he seemed comfortable there. He also seemed unusually present — in the way people are when they don’t know what’s going to happen next but give themselves over to what’s happening now. That made Egan a good conversationalist. Talking with him was like dancing the foxtrot — quick-quick-slow.

“People give me the business because I’m a slow talker,” he said. And he was. Egan thought before he spoke. He also thought while he spoke and retained the right to re-think an answer if he wasn’t satisfied. He was positively Proustian in how lost he could become in a memory. One of the best moments of the show is when Egan tells a 6-minute story (a lifetime in radio) and midway through asks, “What was the question again?”

He never mentioned that he was unwell. Or had been unwell. But, in retrospect, maybe that’s what Egan was saying all along.

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Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.