John Anderson, RIP

John and Amanda Anderson, and Bruce Springsteen.

I met John Anderson close to nineteen years ago, when I started working at America Online, back in the day when the company was the very cutting edge of social media. I had moved across the entire country for the job, my wife had to stay back in California for a couple of months to finish up a semester of school, and I was literally at loose ends, lost, with no friends and very little idea of what to do with myself. John Anderson was part of a close circle of friends who took me in for trips to the Vienna Pub, late night games of Marathon, arguments about science fiction books and films, and more house parties than I can sensibly remember. When Krissy joined me in Virginia, I think she was glad I had fallen in with this particular crowd. Years later I would dedicate a book to these friends, John among them, in commemoration of their drawing me in and and being friends to me.

John held a special place in the group — the pop culture guru, especially when it came to music. His love for the stuff was simply immense, particularly when it came to Americana, that strain of muscular rock of which Bruce Springsteen was the patron saint (and boy, did John ever love his Bruce). Through him I was introduced to dozens of musical acts, many of whom I still listen to today, and many of whom became friends with John after the fandom wore off (I’m thinking particularly of Matthew Ryan here, though there were others).

What was great about John was that he wasn’t a snob about music when he talked to you about it. He wanted to share the stuff, and he wanted to share it with you, and he was genuinely pleased when you liked what he liked. He was the sort of appreciative, loving and intelligent fan any musician wished they could have.

He was also the sort of friend anyone would wish they could have. He was kind and smart, could talk trash while playing foosball or have a long conversation until the sun came up. He excelled in joy — through music, through reading, through friends and through living, and most of all with through his marriage with Amanda, his wife of nearly a decade.

Some years ago John was diagnosed with ALS, and he shared that news with his friends. The ALS took a physical toll but as far as I can see John continued to excel in joy. He was reading, listening to music and enjoying the company of friends right until the end.

That end, which came yesterday, is not, I suggest, the end of that joy in which John excelled. Those of us who had the joy of knowing him, and of sharing in that joy, will feel it whenever we listen to the music he introduced us to, or the books we read with him, or remember the conversations we had or are in the presence of those who knew him and were known by him.

My heart breaks that John is gone, and for Amanda, and all our friends. But how happy I am we each got our time with him, and shared songs and words and days and nights. I will miss my friend, but I will not miss his friendship. That remains and will remain for as long as I do, or any one of us will.

Thanks, John, for the music, and the company, and for you. Peace be with you, and to everyone who loved you and called you their friend.

John & Amanda, watching Matthew Ryan perform at their home.

John was a guest blogger here a few years back. If you would like to read his post — which make clear his love of music and pop culture — here they are.

46 Comments on “John Anderson, RIP”

  1. My condolences to all who knew him.

    He may be gone, but he’s still spreading joy. I’d never heard of Matthew Ryan. That song is fantastic.

  2. ALS is a stone cold bitch of a disease. I’m so sorry it took your friend. Condolences to everyone who knew him, and may his memory bring you joy as long as you live.

  3. 2015 is going to have to be pretty special to make up for the way it has treated you so far. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your friend.

  4. What a lovely tribute to your friend. I can only imagine he found comfort in the strength of your friendship; may you find strength knowing your friends are holding you close in their thoughts and prayers.

  5. John touched so many people. I didn’t know John as well as you, but I feel a huge loss. We shared, as countless others did with John, a huge love of music. I’ll miss that gentle smile most of all. John and all of John’s family and friends will be in our hearts. I don’t know you John, but that includes you too. Take care.

  6. These words ring hollow even in my ears, but I don’t have any better ones: I am deeply sorry for your loss. I wish I could have known John. He sounds like a guy who truly made the world around him a better place. I’m glad you got to feel a piece of that–and that you continue to treasure it.

  7. So sorry about your loss, you do seem to be having a tough time of it this year. This is a beautiful tribute to your friend, your love and admiration for him just jumps out from the page.

    May you find peace and comfort to sustain you now, and may the good things that are awaiting you be outstanding in the height and depth of the joy they bring you.

  8. My sympathies, John. I went back and read a few of his guest posts, and he sounds like a gracious and generous person.

  9. Please accept my sympathy, sir. I am profoundly saddened to think that the world has lost a person like John Anderson – though very glad he was here to share his joy as long as he did.

    Also, you know that notion that people have about things happening in threes? Let’s just all decide right here and now that that idea is totally a fable, a fantasy, a fiction, and that you are DONE with this kind of crappy news effective immediately. No more. None. It’s over. Ok? Right, then.

  10. Wow, this is some week. You were fortunate that John came to you when you needed him and I know you were there when he needed you–the definition of friendship. My sincerest condolences.

  11. I knew and worked with John at AOL, he was a wonderful person, always smiling and I am honored to have known, worked and called him a friend. My condolences to his wife Amanda, family and friends.

    He will be missed, and remembered as a fighter! Semper Fi.

  12. I’m so sorry, John, for the loss of your friend, and to such an evil disease. What a beautiful tribute to a lovely person. My deepest condolences to all his family and friends; it’s obvious he’ll be missed, even as you all hold him close in your hearts.

  13. Hell of a week, Mr. Scalzi. Condolences on the loss of a friend, especially amid pre-existing grief. Be gentle with yourself for a while, yeah?

  14. That was a brilliant, lovely and worthy tribute, Scalzi. We rally ’round Amanda and remember a most wonderful man.

  15. Your friend was clearly well and truly loved. And you are fortunate for the friendship you had with him, and the memories you always will have.

  16. My condolences. As a fellow Bruce fanatic, I am glad to hear about John, who seemed to really practice that great line in Bruce’s song, that “it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.” What a beautiful eulogy you wrote.

  17. I’m so sorry. He sounds like a truly special person. And what a wonderful way to put it — that your friend is gone but that the friendship you shared is forever. I’ll be holding that close for a long time.

  18. John, I’m sorry for the loss of your good friend and my condolences to his wife, if she should happen to read the comments here. True deep friendships are one of life’s greatest pleasures and I’m happy for both you and John A. that you experienced this together.

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