Saturday, February 13, 2016

Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights

It's been a boom year so far for famous dead musicians, and not just the ones nobody has heard of unless they're under forty, but the real ones. Right out of the gate we lost David Bowie. He epitomized an era about as well as it can be epitomized. I can't listen to Starman without being transported to a small basement flat in London where I spent a year slowly losing my mind and also drinking Guinness (so, on average, a good year). I have an acquaintance who reportedly threw out all his Bowie albums when he found out the man might be gay, which raises several questions about my friend, including: how did that little tidbit sneak up on him? The point is, things are different now, at least I hope they are, and Bowie's been with us for all of it.  Then Glenn Frey keeled over. Then Jefferson Airplane lost two members on the same day. Then Dan Hicks. And all over the social media (or, at least, Facebook, which is the platform that gained legal custody of the old farts), people were wailing along with the equally dead Marvin Gaye: What's going on?

Sure, we lost some along the way. It happens. Especially when a generation is experimenting with a lot of drugs. The adults always called it that, "experimenting," but in reality a lot of us were way past the test ride and had bought the whole fleet. Hendrix, Joplin, Lowell George--there were so many great musicians, and also Jim Morrison. It almost seemed sort of exciting and exotic at the time. Actual cessation of life--bold move! We didn't expect people to just die. Like, ever. And there was that romantic notion of dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse. You know, if you ignore the vomit and stuff.

And some of it just wasn't fair. Zappa, Beefheart, Nyro? We wuz robbed. But now they're dropping like weighted flies. "It always comes in threes," you hear, which is true, because after the third one you start counting over, but we're getting into the serious multiples here. We feel betrayed. These people wrote the very soundtrack of our youth. They were our youth. And if they're dying, it means...wait a minute...it means...

[tension builds as the boomers begin to put the puzzle pieces together. Shark music commences, swells. There is a gasp, and, off stage, a scream.]

Who's next? we say, alarmed, as though we are in the presence of a stalker. Bulletin: we are. We're old, people. This isn't some cosmic plot. You start edging up on that three-score and ten, you're going to have to expect some attrition.

You're not really expecting The Eagles in my collection, are you?
It's not like we're wanting for evidence. The younger generation has started to mumble, and even when you can hear them, they don't make any sense. Remember when you could use nudity as both a political statement and a personal ad? Now look at you. You're completely covered in spots and speckles, little messages, like your skin has set up an informational picket. And that's just the organ you can see. Inside, all your moist, pink, baggy bits are trying to send you messages too. Your kidneys, your liver, your heroic heap of intestines have all been saving your ass for decades, and now, they've just about had it with you. They've put up with your bullshit all this time and now they're thinking it's time to send you to the Big Time-Out.

So don't ask who's next. You might not want to know. We've been on the downhill skid since John Lennon's Revolution was first used to sell shoes. Someday soon we're all going to be gone. Some of us might be able to buy a stairway to heaven, and the rest of us, grateful or not, will be friends of the devil. Keith Richards will spend a little time sweeping up after us, and then he's out, too.

47 comments:

  1. There certainly has been a lot recently, I've done a fair share of blinking real hard to stop the tears.
    Why aren't the Eagles in your collection? Hmm? I like them, although I did get heartily sick of hearing Hotel California at some point.

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    1. I'm not a fan. And Glenn Frey's voice makes my back crawl. But you're welcome to 'em. The closest I get to the Eagles is a Steely Dan record with the lyric "turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening."

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  2. I occasionally go YouTubing, looking for a song that popped up in my back-of-the-mind jukebox, and get stuck poking around, looking up names I remember. And I find them, in recent, live performances; Wow! And then I watch, and they're all old, old, old. Grey-haired, with cracked voices and saggy faces. How did that happen? They used to be my age!

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  3. I was also wondering how the artists of my youth could just be taking off like that. I did not understand it until I realized they were not that much older then me and some were my age!! I though Bowie was bi-sexual?

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    1. I guess the consensus now is he was bisexual but mainly straight. Certainly in the '70s it didn't seem like any big revelation that he was gay.

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  4. And let's don't forget Big Mamma Cass.

    The fact is that generations die out in waves - should give you pause.

    I remember my mother saying that everybody she dreamed about was dead.

    I haven't kept contact with old friends, family or acquaintances - so the only reference I have is actors and artist of my generation... I'm overdrawn.
    Have a happy day
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Mama Cass was from my home town. Remember that great line? "If Mama Cass had just offered Karen Carpenter a bite of that baloney sandwich, they'd both be alive today."

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  5. Who's Next? I've got that album, too! They're never totally dead (only mostly dead) as long as we still remember them and the music. At least you and I are still breathing. Today, anyway.

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  6. Absolutely! You should also have tagged this one aging and geriatrics. A great read.

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    1. You know, I don't really understand tagging. What do the tags do? I should look into that.

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    2. When a reader clicks on one of your tags, in this instance, let's say "death", all your posts that have "death" as a tag will come up. It comes in handy if someone wants to refer back to one of your posts, but can't remember the date or title -- only the subject matter. However, I don't see any type of search engine where one can type in a tag or look up a list of your tags to choose from... so that's rather remiss of Blogspot.

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  7. Yeah, it's been a pretty crappy year so far. In addition to the famous people, two of my first cousins have died since New Year's Day. I'm looking over my shoulder.

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  8. In agreement with all you wrote.

    Except the bit about the Eagles. That was the soundtrack to MY university years. My life was a bit tamer than yours.

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    1. Yeah, Captain Beefheart is not found in the easy-listening aisle.

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    2. I loved Trout Mask Replica!

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    3. Who wouldn't? Oh, pretty much most people. Not you and me, buddy.

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  9. Live fast, die young, and make a good-looking corpse. I think James Dean uttered that sentence in a film. Then he did.

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  10. Truth. But they are not dead to me. I have never been alive to them, but they are not dead to me.

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  11. It's not a bad idea to have some Mozart and Gigli in your mix - they're long gone so we don't get the weeping-and-wailing for their passing.
    These days, I don't have many friends older than myself...

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    1. I don't know, I'm still a little choked up over Mozart.

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  12. I just read that Justice Scalia died. That alone, I think balances something, doesn't it?

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  13. I was saddened last year when Maria Muldaur died. You would like her--one song DON'T YA FEEL MY LEG, and the song IT AIN'T THE MEAT, IT'S THE MOTION would probably hit you.
    I always liked her singing. Her super hit was MIDNIGHT AT THE OASIS.
    Yep, we have lost some good ones.

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    1. Sure, I remember Maria Muldaur! Good news for you though. She's still topside. The internet is, as they say, a good source of typing. I think I've read that MERYL STREEP IS GONE every day for a month now.

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  14. Odd (or not) how the deaths of people, musicians, friends, affect us different at stages of our life. Morrison's death, Momma Cass, Janis were sad. bit not personal, at least to me. I was sorry to see them gone, but it didn't have much to do with me.
    Now, it's different. Every death, and there have been several recently, I see as personal. Man, I'm the same age. I'm older, I'm not that much younger.
    I recently went on my HS grad year website (who'd a known there was one), and find that the '64 Bend Senior Class had around 40 gone already. A lot in the last 5-8 years.
    Having a spouse gone makes a difference I suppose, though she'll no doubt whisper "check the tires on our daughters minivan, I think they need replacing, and quit dwelling on stuff" in my ear soon. Maybe she already did, I gotta go out to the driveway.

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    1. I salute you for your excellent essay, in its entirety, above.

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    2. Yeah, I'm a bit long-winded. Cary said the same.

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    3. You're never described as "long-winded" when you have something to say.

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  15. Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton...when will it stop? My favorite line bit? "And also Jim Morrison." I love this musician's take on all the carnage. Somehow missed Dan Hicks' passing. I scare myself just thinking about it. Great one Murrbaby. And I love the wailing face xoxoxojz

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    1. When will it stop? As the Godfather says, the hits just keep on comin'. Yeah, Dan Hicks. Died of throat cancer, I think--remember "Smoke that cigarette?"

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  16. Really, Julie: Meryl Streep? Diane Keaton? Where have I been lately?

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    1. We know where you haven't been: the clickbait nonsense in the margins of your facebook page.

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  17. Justice Scalia's departure to what I hope will be warm rewards for bad behavior does sort of balance things a bit.

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    1. Lucky for me, I don't believe in that stuff, but he probably does.

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  18. Lowell George. Gram Parsons. The lead singer of Humble Pie. Stevie Ray Vaughn. Just think of all the wonderful music we'll never have because we lost them all. Breaks my heart.

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    1. We went to see Stevie Ray Vaughn in the '70s. He was the headliner, but we were there for the opening act, Bonnie Raitt, and when she left and he came on, we didn't last fifteen minutes. Too loud! We'd gone prematurely oldfartish.

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    2. In the 70s? I didn't think any music was too loud in the seventies! ha Saw the Rolling Stones at the Rose Garden in Portland a few years back, and the cilia in my ears were lying down never to rise again! It was worth every bit of it!

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  19. Yup. The start of 2016 was like being in a cosmic boxing ring: *biff* *sock* *pow*.

    Charlie Brown: "We're all going to be dead one day"
    Snoopy: "Yes, but until then we won't be".

    Words to live by.

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    1. Indeed! Also love Calvin and Hobbes: "It's not the pace of life I mind. It's the sudden stop at the end."

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  20. You know what they say about screeching to a stop in Heaven, glass of wine in one hand and chocolate in the other! Woo-hoo! Love the comments on this thread Murr! PLUS I forgot to mention going to see the Grateful Dead in Portl in the 70s, back when they toured with the Wall of Sound, a giant arc of speakers and amps stacked up behind them. They came onstage, picked up their guitars and hit that first chord; I AM NOT exaggerating when I relate that the sound literally pushed my body against the back of my seat. Unbelievable.

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