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Ramona's Ramblings

Sparkle in the streetlight; a tribute to Marc J. Switko


“I wrote a hit song called Sparkle in the Streetlight,” said Marc J. Switko (the J, he once told me, was for Jane, but I suspected otherwise). He then started singing, “Well, I popped some pills and cracked open a beer…”

Already I didn’t like the opening line at least not for a Christmas song, but that was Marc’s dark and honest humor. And that was about eight years ago.

In the final chorus, Marc sang, “And I’ll keep walking down that road, lookin’ up at a star to guide my way and I’ll almost think of you once or twice in the sparkle of the streetlight on this Christmas Eve”. Through the craft of songwriting, Marc was processing emotions surrounding a difficult divorce. His very popular band, Mountain Wave, recorded Sparkle in the Streetlight and released it on Soundcloud. When the band broke-up, Marc bought a symphonic gong and became a sound healer.

Fast forward to May 2020. I was at the Farmers Market in Callicoon holding a dozen eggs and some flowering broccoli rabe when Marc turned the corner. “I’ve been meaning to reach out to you. I’m not doing too well,” he said. “I’d like to go walking with you.” From that point forward, we walked along River Road most every day singing Rick James songs particularly “Brick House”. We wanted to get it right. “Ow, she's a brick house. She's mighty-mighty, just lettin' it all hang out…” The walks soon turned into daily river swims, lunches and dinners together.

At times, we were so silly we couldn’t look into each other’s eyes otherwise we’d laugh uproariously for no reason at all. We had to be especially careful during live performances, a difficult task since I often had to give him cues when he played drums with my husband, Andre, and me.

The next summer, I hardly saw Marc at all. No news was usually good news, plus we had the kind of friendship that didn’t require physical presence or constant contact. I missed our river walks and dinner talks. Fast forward to April 1st, 2022: Andre and I heard that Marc was in a downward spiral so we cooked up an April Fool’s joke and headed to his house.

“We have a great musical idea that we want you to be part of,” I began. Marc raised an eyebrow.
“It’s perfect for the Catskills and we’ll make lots of money,” Andre chimed, “Get ready for this! It’s going to be a sensation. A hit!”
“I’m ready,” Marc said.
“It’s a cover band. A tribute band called Get Ready for the Best of Helen Reddy!” Marc chuckled as I added, “Of course, I’ll sing the Helen Reddy songs, Andre will play bass and you’ll be on drums, but you’ll come up front in the second half of the show with Engelbert Humperdinck songs; we’ll call that segment After the Lovin’. And you’ll have dancing girls! We’ve already arranged them. Andre will finish the set with Jonesin’ for Tom Jones.”

That was our shared sense of humor and the last time we saw our friend; the musician, cook, loving father, writer, visual artist, songwriter, philosopher, psychotherapist, best friend, gong mystic, and pop shaman who was Marc J. Switko.

When the call came, “Marc’s gone.” I asked, “Gone where? Missing?” I wasn’t joking. I was in disbelief of any other possibility. “No, he’s…” After that I don’t remember what was said except that I learned his depression finally took him.

I’m sure that Marc would want us to meet his passing, not in perpetual grief, but rather as a way to find something more in each of our lives; to delve deeper into all that exists, and to know that he’s free now; somewhere in the heavens, a sparkling star.

During Friday night’s candle-lit vigil, a large group of friends walked in silence from Callicoon to the boat landing and back. Between graying clouds, the setting sun flashed a Morse code of pink and purple, so striking, I couldn’t help but whisper, “Wow”. Was he signaling us? Saying he was okay? I think so. After a while, that brilliant messenger dipped slowly behind a cloud and a creamy full moon appeared bidding us all a loving and peaceful goodnight.


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