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Jeremy Ruck, 50: The Alan Parsons Project's 'Don't Answer Me'

Jeremy Ruck
Courtesy of Holly Ruck
Jeremy Ruck

In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Two years later, more than a million people have died in the United States from the disease. To put a face on this number and pay respect to the departed, NPR asked our audience to share songs that reminded them of a loved one lost to COVID-19. What follows are individual stories of those who have passed, those mourning them and the songs that continue to unite them.

Jeremy was a broadcast engineer who owned his own company. As part of his work, he was the manager of broadcast and telecommunication for the Willis Tower in Chicago, Ill. He loved understanding how everything worked and putting it all together. He loved being high above the city of Chicago in the middle of the night and seeing the lights. Everything about it was magic to him.

It's important to note that Jeremy refused to get vaccinated and declined to wear masks unless he had no choice. Jeremy and I were angry with each other about COVID, and while "Don't Answer Me" wasn't written about a brother/sister relationship, the lyrics seem especially poignant now because of our divide.

Jeremy and I used to talk about music all the time — it was one of our favorite things. Our whole lives, we would pass song lyrics back and forth to each other and see if the other one could guess the name of the song. We'd have long discussions about particular songs, bands, producers and albums, most of it was while he was driving around the country to various job sites. We used to text each other pictures of radio displays when a song came on that we knew the other one liked. Once, before we could easily search the internet, we had a sprawling, hours-long discussion about the religious meaning behind "The Boxer" by Simon & Garfunkel.

One day in 2018, we did this deep dive into the Alan Parsons Project. He had always loved the APP and listened to them when we were young in the '80s. I hadn't known that Alan Parsons engineered The Dark Side of the Moon (we're both big Floyd fans), and I excitedly texted Jeremy. It led us into this long conversation that made me appreciate both the band and Jeremy's deep musical knowledge. I miss these conversations terribly. He was my favorite person in the world. —Holly Ruck, sister

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