Thursday, January 28, 2016

And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust...

You know I'm getting pretty hōhā with 2016, or as some of my younger f/Friends Stateside would put it 'enough already!'

Yesterday came the announcement that yet another artist who's work makes up the soundtrack of my own life has died prematurely. Part of me is thinking that there must be a party somewhere with one heck of guest list or jam session, regardless of the fact that I have no idea really whether I believe in life after death or not, and if there is what form it might take. But it's the sort of thing that we console ourselves with though when grieving, when logic has no place.

When David Bowie died, shortly followed by Alan Rickman, I was trying to get my head around the why the passing of someone I'd never met felt like such a kick in the guts. It's not like I'd plastered my walls with posters of them, nor been a fanatical follower. Sure I have several David Bowie albums, consider a good few of Alan Rickman's films to be up there amongst my favourites of all time, and yes I too bought Black's album on the strength of 'Wonderful Life' alone but I never bought any others, nor had even realized there were any until reading Colin Vearncombe's obituary today. It was this tweet seen on Facebook though that helped made sense of what I was feeling "Thinking about how we mourn artists we've never met. We don't cry because we knew them, we cry because they helped us know ourselves." And, as I said before, precisely because they make up the soundtrack of our own lives.

There are lyrics that resonate with us, that make sense of our own tangled emotions, that let us know we aren't alone in feeling that way. In the same way there are characters portrayed in films that speak to us on a deeper level. But there are also the songs and scenes that stay with us because of associated memories of where we were, who we were with, who we've sat with endlessly quoting lines back and forth or even just listened to others doing just that.

After a year watching several new film versions of Robin Hood, on top of repeated viewing of the videos of the TV series the one thing our uni crowd was unanimous about was that Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham outshone the rest by far. He more than made up for the dodgy accents and Forestry Commission forests complete with signs masquerading as Sherwood, not to mention the really lousy geography. When the clip of him cancelling Christmas was shown during the obituary on the news it wasn't just Alan Rickman's brilliant acting I was seeing encapsulated in a few seconds, but 25yrs or so of friendships, and a whole gamut of Robin Hood books, films, songs and associated memories of which he was such a defining part of. It felt like my own life was flashing before my eyes rather than his acting career. And that's just one of his stellar performances.

Fran was saying on Facebook that her boss had set the office homework to come in with their favourite Bowie track after the weekend. One track???? It's just as well I wasn't expected to do the same! I realized as I worked my way through the many Bowie tracks shared on social media as well as my own itunes library that I couldn't choose any track purely on musical merit. It depends on so much; what mood I'm in, what do I want to be reminded of? The fact that David Bowie managed to cover such a wide breadth of styles over so many decades means there's pretty much a suitable track for any occasion! No wonder his work has touched so many of us; his songs transport me back to many places, times and people that have been important to me and/or define a time in one way or another. Many bands and artists have those sorts of connections for me, but Bowie represents some of the most diverse and numerous. Bowie reinvented himself and his image time after time, he was always just that little bit different, but that was okay. A good reminder to have when you find yourself feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Hopefully I can expect to see out at least another three decades and it doesn't seem quite right to think that there will be no more new Bowie tracks to define them, obviously that day was inevitable, but I wasn't quite ready for it to happen. There is a sadness for the loss of what might have been created.

'No need to laugh, and cry, it's a wonderful, wonderful life...' a song that has probably made it's way on to more compilation tapes and cds that I've put together over the years than any other. In my minds eye the song conjours up the dreadful carpets and wallpaper in our Croydon Rd flat and other images from the time, but it also makes me think of the many people since then who I've passed the song on to. Perhaps in doing so making it part of their life story at a different time.

I can't say as I felt any personal sense of loss when Lemmy or the guy from Rainbow (the band not the tv show!) died recently, their music not really being quite my cup of tea, but the fact that there seemed to be so many not quite making their three score year and ten all in a rush does still seem a bit much (okay for the pedants amongst you Lemmy had passed 70, but only by four days...). There is an expectation now that people live longer than that, especially those who can afford decent health care, even those whose lifestyle might be described as burning the candle at both ends for many years. These days seventy seems too young. Musicians and actors that are contemporaries of my parents are suddenly dropping like flies... it's no wonder really that it is getting so many of my generation worried. We're not ready to be the older generation yet!

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