Thursday, May 25, 2006

I Get Melodramatic About Dead Musicians

You can ask my ex if you want. I cried when Nina Simone died.

It was kind of random tonight - I was digging through Wikipedia looking for some dates & cover art for some Paul McCartney singles from the '70s that were sitting around under-labeled in iTunes (a sin considering my anal-retentive devotion to iTunes), and wouldn't you know it, pretty soon I was reading up on Brian Epstein, Beatles manager and a minor personal hero of mine since high school, and of course before you know it you're re-reading the gory details of John Lennon's life.

You know that there was mamadrama going on, and that she (Julia) died young, and he knocked up Cynthia, named son Julian after dead mom, ignored wife & kid to tour with the Beatles, was the best straight buddy/unrequited love interest of genius manager Epstein, weathered the bigger-than-Jesus storm, became enmeshed with unattractive/bad singer-yet-provocative/intellectual-feminist/artist Ono, had painful public fights with Paul, was harassed by the Nixon administration, did the Elton John concert thingy, became a housedad to son #2, returned to music 5 years later & gave us the gorgeous "Watching the Wheels"... you know the history... and then you just have to read up on the details of 12/8/1980. It's a date that's been stuck in my head since high school. John Lennon was 40 years old. That's been stuck in my head for over a decade, too.

It is melodramatic, on some level, to really mourn the death of famous people that wrote music over the death of, I don't know, servicemen in Iraq that were 19 and died. Or crackheads who got hit by cars and died. John Lennon was himself a junkie (though technically only a junkie in the truest sense for a couple of years, but you knew that too). His life was hardly a model for greatness: flunking out of art school, knockin' up bitches, doing every drug available, writing petty (and yet terrific!) songs mocking McCartney, etc...

To sit around 25-1/2 years later and mourn the loss of someone who died when I was a toddler, whose death has been a fact of life for my entire walking life, is a little silly at 2 AM on a weeknight. Lennon didn't die yesterday, and when was the last time I actually sat around listening to a John Lennon record end-to-end? There's so much music to listen to out there. There are so many dead musicians to mourn.

I intentionally didn't write a eulogy for my man, Wilson Pickett, who wrote one of my 2-3 favorite songs of all time, a couple months back. In the pre-blog years I wrote lengthy eulogies for Nina Simone & Johnny Cash. By the time Ray Charles died, I felt like I'd eulogized enough. Then Wilson Pickett died a couple months back and I tore the shit out of "In The Midnight Hour" at karaoke a couple times that week. Mostly at gay bars where the two-to-three non-Aryans in the bar were surprised/impressed/embarrassed (take your pick) at the farmboy belting out Memphis soul, while being thoroughly ignored by the rest of the crowd who had no idea what was going on but knew it wasn't a Cher cover. But I just couldn't find the nerve to draft up my own from-memory-Wikipediaesque entry & send it out to the world. Pining for dead musicians is just so lame or something.

But it occupies a strong place in my psyche. People who have given me great music but suffered so much pain (and maybe it's not that shocking for the two to co-occur so often) get a lot of empathy from me. Sometimes when they die, I cry. I can't imAGine what it will be like for me when Bob Dylan dies (he almost went a few years back after breathing some bad airborne fungus at Bonnaroo). And fucking John Lennon. He died before I was toilet-trained. The dude's been dead longer than I've been sitting on the crapper pinching out turds, and yet I'm still capable of feeling profoundly sad about it, at 2 in the morning. Well, he gave us "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Imagine," not to mention countless other pieces of inexplicable beauty.

Oh fuck, "Mind Games" just came up on iTunes and now I'm crying. I have got to get to sleep.

2 Comments:

At 4:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's strange but i was having a similar thought pattern myself when i heard that desmond dekker died. That got me going on nina simone and others in the same way... weird
-a ha mint

 
At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought maybe you would want to see this http://music.msn.com/music/article.aspx?news=224775

 

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