On Jan. 15, 2012, Adam Levy, lead singer of the Honeydogs, a Minneapolis band with several critically acclaimed albums to its name, suffered what is universally regarded as the worst pain a human being can endure: the death of a child by his own hand. Daniel Levy passed away by suicide at the age of 21 after a long struggle with mental health. It was a terrible blow to his fans. Adam’s just one of those guys you admire. For his gifts certainly; the man writes wonderful songs, and the Honeydogs’ 1997 album, “Seen a Ghost,” was as fine an album made that year. But also for his compassion. He’s a guy who shows up for things. Social justice events, charity albums, get-out-the-vote rallies. You don’t have to ask Adam twice. But a blow like this. How does anyone recover? You probably don’t. But you go on. And Adam did. Unbelievably, on March 10, 2012, Adam played a show to a packed house at First Avenue with his band. I don’t know how he was even standing, but the Honeydogs had a gig that night and he had a job to do and he did it. He sang that night and he sang beautifully.
Kevin Featherly and I were there.
Kevin and I have been friends for many years, and we have long shared an appreciation for the Honeydogs. Kevin even wrote about the band for Minnesota Monthly in 2006. We were fans. And we were sad. We wondered if Adam was doing OK. Then we thought: why not ask him?
What an obnoxious request. What right do we, do any of us, have to ask about something so personal? But we thought that Adam, being Adam, just might be willing to go into painful places for us, knowing that the intention is to share his insights with people who may be going through something similar, and healing can take place. And Adam, being Adam, took seriously this request. The three of us met for coffee, talked it over, and he said yes.
The rest was all Kevin Featherly. Kevin, a seasoned print journalist, has spent the past three years learning video production skills as a way of adding to his skill set. He felt he was ready to produce a professional documentary, and I knew he’d throw everything he had into it.
What he delivered is a remarkable piece of work. Tasteful, restrained, challenging, and wonderfully edited. And he put it all together in his basement using Final Cut Pro.
Now, to be sure, this interview deals in hard stuff. It’s painful. But it’s also beautiful. One learns how a parent absorbs the pain and questions and agony over the loss of a child who suicides, and comes to some acceptance about it. And coming from Adam, it’s all so eloquent.
As importantly, one gets a chance to know Daniel. To hear about him and see his art gives so much insight into this remarkable young man, and the anguish he battled.
The arts were Daniel’s outlet. For viewers who want to advocate for young people in at-risk situations, Adam suggests a donation to Free Arts MN, a wonderful organization dedicated to bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of troubled children.
I’m just so grateful to be associated with this work. Thank you, Adam, for sharing your story and being such an inspiration; thank you, Kevin, for delivering such a first-rate documentary; and thank you, Daniel, for the life you so singularly lived.
Friends, it’s with the deepest reverence and admiration that I invite you to watch this first of a four-part conversation with Adam Levy.
— Adam Wahlberg