Chicago singer-songwriter Jim McCandless dies at 68
Jim McCandless had a big workingman’s heart that carried around life’s humble glories.
The Chicago singer-songwriter was a fixture at dozens of Chicago music rooms including the Abbey Pub, the No Exit Cafe, the Old Town School of Folk Music and FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, where he debuted his latest record, “Lucky Day,” in February.
Mr. McCandless died Tuesday after a fall in his North Side home. He was 68.
The “Lucky Day” CD cover featured a photo of natty Mr. McCandless and his wife, Dee, on their 1985 wedding day.
Mr. McCandless had the detailed eye of a newspaper reporter.
In 1988 he bought standing-room-only tickets to the National Basketball Association All Star Game at the Chicago Stadium to see Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Mr. McCandless had composed the song “Kareem and Me” about each of them going bald together.
“My songs are not beyond people,” Mr. McCandless once told the Sun-Times over a beer at a North Side bar. “They’re right there. The feelings and the thoughts. I keep my ears open. Words jump out at you, and that’s usually the starting point. Then I grab the guitar and try to put the music to the rhythm of those words.”
Mr. McCandless had worked for 15 years as a Chicago electrician. His father was an electrician who worked on the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Mr. McCandless quit his electrician gig because the job was rough on his hands but used his observational skills to write songs about tradesmen.
Mr. McCandless is survived by his wife. They had lived together 19 years before they married in 1985.
Arrangements for services are pending.