Today is, in the lexicon of Don McLean (and no I am going to make no judgment on allegations he has chronically smacked his wife around; that’s for the McLeans to sort out) “the day the music died.”
I am aged enough that I remember that day as the first time some rock-and-roll heroes bit the dust. Actually, and I wouldn’t hesitate to assert this, Holly, the rube from Lubbock. Texas was arguably a musical genius of rock or any genre – miles ahead of Presley, who never wrote a damn thing in his life – and on a par with Elvis as a stylist. Very young at the time of death Ritchie Valens was no slouch, either. And the Big Bopper was just sheer bawdy fun.
Over the years since a lot of youth musical icons died; some by misadventure and bad habits, like Janis, Hendrix, Garcia, Cobain and countless others going right through to the brilliant and much-lamented Amy Winehouse. And some died through misfortune like Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Denvier, most of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Duane Allman and so forth. And, of course, the ultimate indignity was the assassination of John Lennon. And finally there were those who died of illness, like Bob Marley and George Harrison.
It’s the latter category that has become prevalent of late. And it has been largely the illness that comes with age like heart disease and cancers. That’s a difficult one to get around, especially for those of us who are advancing in our years. Within the past few weeks we have lost the iconic and inestimable talent of David Bowie and the wonderfulness of Glen Frey of the Eagles. I for one happen to think Hotel California is the best rock song ever and the only other one that comes close, in terms of emotional impact on me is Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street.
The thought that strikes me about these demises, premature or of natural years is, I didn’t personally know any of these individuals, I only emotionally so is my (or your) emotional grief any less valid. I truly have no answer for that, but such deaths can seem just as real.
Maybe that is just a silly thought. But about certain things I am prepared to be silly.