Singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has recorded a moving tribute to comic Robin Williams, who died Monday at age 63 in an apparent suicide, and has posted his song, "Robin (A Tribute to Robin Williams 1951-2014)," to YouTube accompanied by clips of Williams in action from throughout his career.
Arthur traces the arc of that career, referencing Williams' many TV, movie and comedy roles from "Mork & Mindy" and "Good Morning Vietnam" through "The Fisher King" and "Dead Poets Society."
"You started out on Ork/A cosmic jet-fueled dork," Arthur sings at the outset of what becomes a penetrating tribute to the inner pain that lurked beneath Williams' unbridled comic exterior.
The Fisher King was you
Those of us never knew
That your demons hadn't yet been tamed
You hid in the storm
Of laughter so warm
Hard to see that the source
Was still maimed
Following a reprise of the song's chorus -- "Oh Robin you flew/And now robin you fly/To places we can't see or yet conceive/The joy that you gave/We know now was brave/To be free and yet remain still a slave" -- Arthur ends by repeating a simple farewell: "So long ... so long."
In a statement accompanying the song and video, Arthur noted, "I met Robin once. I was visiting a girlfriend in Vancouver where they film lots of movies and it was in a dressing room of a spa. It was just him and me.
"My first thought was, 'Oh hey, I know you,' and then it dawned on me, 'Oh wait -- that's Robin Williams.' So I was immediately starstruck. But he noticed a book I had, and we started talking about it. He set me at ease. Very friendly and unassuming person for the level of fame he had, but I was glad I got to thank him in a way.
"When I heard of his passing," Arthur wrote, "it seemed as if the universe must've made a mistake."
Arthur continued, "He was such a cultural icon, particularly I think for children of the seventies who were mesmerized by Mork and then got to grow up right along with his work and craft. It's a huge loss for us all and my heart goes out to his family and friends.
"Hopefully this tragedy will help change the conversation about the illnesses of addiction and depression. We definitely need a more progressive and tolerant approach. We are fragile beings and life is a blessing. Godspeed Robin"