Richard Reed Parry (b. 1977) is a Canadian musician. He is best-known as a member of the alternative rock band Arcade Fire. A multi-instrumentalist, he plays guitar, double bass, drums, keyboards and accordion. He has co-written many of Arcade Fire’s songs. Parry has released solo albums, including Quiet River of Dust, Volumes I and II. He has also composed numerous classical pieces for Kronos Quartet, yMusic and Bryce Dessner.
Parry comes from a long line of Pennsylvania Quakers. He grew up attending Toronto Meeting. Toronto Friends, in fact, bought him his first double bass, for which, he noted, “I shall be eternally grateful”. The Quiet River of Dust albums were inspired by voices he heard singing in the forest near Mount Koya in Japan. The voices were disembodied, that is, there was no one there to sing. Citing his Quaker background’s mysticism, though, he simply accepted the experience. Parry regards the act of artistic creation, in an unconscious parallel with Friends worship, as: “It’s about turning your attention to it in a certain way and staying there for a moment, being silent and absorbing this magical feeling of the thing that you might pass by otherwise”. He states, however, that he not currently active with Friends.
I had been unfamiliar with Richard Reed Parry’s work. Researching for this piece, I was delighted with Arcade Fire’s music. And I was very moved by a song Parry wrote: “Their Passing in Time”. It is a stunning work. Though I don’t plan to die any time soon, this is what I want played at my funeral.
A link to “Their Passing in Time”, as performed by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus: