It won’t be on the cover of Rolling Stone, it won’t make major headlines, and it won’t effect an FM radio tributary. But he is on our cover, he is our major headline, and we are paying him tribute!
Derek Philbert passed away February 6, 2012 at the age of 24. He was found dead as the result of a tragic accident, leaving family and friends devastated. We share in the shock, anger, and despair that his grieving people are suffering. While both the brothers Philbert, Derek and Luke, are proudly featured on DHR as respectively talented poet-musicians, they’re also family.
I have known Derek and Luke Philbert since the days when Paperboy was the newest game out on NES. We were kids; innocent, imaginative, and free. Growing up, we quickly became separated by different Californian latitudes, and it wasn’t until in our twenties that I got to experience the impressive man Derek had come to be. This was during a trip through Ecuador, where I was exposed to the innumerable qualities and traits of a true Renaissance man.
Artist, poet, musician, magician, craftsman, comic, intellectual, photographer, adventurer, lover… Derek blossomed a multicolored spectrum of flowers in his all too short time. He was incredibly sharp, truly intelligent. Both book smart, much by way of passionate self-education, as well as street smart. He concerned himself with matters of interest and intellect well beyond the range of not only his age, but all ages. That is to say, he cared about things most people don’t and won’t ever care about. He was also crafty. As in, he could build stuff. Not the type to have things done for him if he could do them with his own hands… If his chickens needed a coop, it would have Derek’s name branded into it. Like all stellar beings with shining souls, Derek was also hilarious. His was a quirky humor, often augmented or exacerbated by brother Luke – creating an enigmatically, esoterically infectious game that you tingled to be a part of. While most will preserve memories of laughter and remember the man closely for his jests, many will never forget his music.
Derek was a naturally inclined musician and singer. His voice and music go together like sunlight and chlorophyll – the product is miraculous and life-giving. When Derek laid his gem “Get Well Soon” on me, I was blown away. When he played and sung it to me in person, while sitting face to face amid a dank hostel bedroom in Ecuador, I was blown off the mountain. His vocals were as clean and emotive as the recording. I immediately understood it was one of the best songs ever written (something shared by a few of his brother Luke’s own originals). I truly mean it. Like a scuba diver in a sea of song, as someone who’s been a submerged music junkie longer than lobsters can hold their breath, I earnestly uphold that “Get Well Soon” is one of the best songs ever written. In support of my stance, once upon a time, were several moved listeners who’d phoned in demanding to know who I’d just played over the airwaves of KXLU 88.9 FM Los Angeles. There’s something very, very special about song. A playwright can move its audience to the marrow in 3 hours… A filmmaker in 1 and a half… It takes a novelist at least 100 pages… A songwriter… 2 minutes. Derek’s hauntingly premonitory Swan song cuts to the core of human fabric.
Now Derek is free again, and in harmony, able to play as much Paperboy and wear as many sandals as he wishes. His massive character, joyous humor, and piercing music will always be cherished. And while those things somehow allow us to feel slightly better and closer to him, they will also make us miss him evermore, rightfully so. The world lost a good being, to be true; and the world of music lost a talent that hadn’t even begun to begin to change the world. We hope the song “Get Well Soon” transcends his death to alter lives well after his own has become extinguished.
Get well soon brother, we’re sorry you had to leave. We’ll miss you until we join you. Peace.