The other day I saw this Twitter comment someone had left about the death of David Bowie that resonated strongly with me. The person said that the reason we feel sad over the death of someone we never met is that the person touched and influenced our lives through his of her art. No matter if it’s David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman, Lemmy, or Stevie Wright (lead singer of The Easybeats) we all feel this sense of loss in our own lives. It’s more pronounced in this age of social networking when as soon as it’s reported that an artist, musician, artist, or writer has passed away, we’re all updating our statuses, changing our profile photos, or sharing personal anecdotes of that person. In life and in death we are all brought together by these individuals who touched our lives.
One can only imagine what it might have been like if there was Facebook or Twitter when Elvis, John Lennon, or Kurt Cobain died. We are living in an age when we can express our grief more publicly than ever before. And it is through this grief that brings us closer.
At the same time, what exactly are we mourning? Are we mourning the loss of this person or are we mourning our own inevitable mortality? Although we might be, to paraphrase Allen Ginsberg, losing the best minds of a generation, we are in the case musicians like Bowie or Frey, also losing a part of our youth. We can all remember the first time we listened to these musicians and the soundtracks they provided for our lives. That’s why it hurts so much. I can still remember the day I slapped Ziggy Stardust on my turntable and played it over and over. I’m still playing it today: “Starman” is in constant rotation on my iPod.
Some are harder to take than others. I felt that way about David Bowie. Watching his final, haunting video, put the zap in me. Thinking about it now still sends a shiver down my spine.
However, we will always have their music, their movies, and their books. One of my friends, David Steele said it best upon the news of Glenn Frey’s death: “Their music is their artistic immortality, the gift to the rest of us. As long as it is played somewhere, part of the artist lives.” I like that.
If you’re feeling a bit down because the world has lost yet another music legend, listen to their music again and share in the joy, not in the loss that it brings. Just be sure to turn it up.
“Glenn Frey” by Steve Alexander – originally posted to Flickr as Glenn Frey. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Glenn_Frey.jpg#/media/File:Glenn_Frey.jpg