It’s kind of like losing a friend. In some ways it’s kind of like losing your best friend. It’s amazing to think such a distant event can have such an impact. Not just on you but on thousands, maybe even millions. Automatically your mind switches to selfish thoughts, “I won’t be able to see that show ever again.” No more waiting in line. No more anxiety trying to get tickets. No more anticipation waiting for the next record to drop.
I’m mourning the music. But I’m mourning the man as well. Not as a friend (but kind of, yeah) and not as an acquaintance (never had the pleasure) but as a human being that gave me so much joy.
Joy and pleasure and catharsis through years and years of listening and watching and learning. Learning what it meant to love, to suffer, to party. What it meant to live. It might sound grandiose but I’ve had this guy in my ear for most of my life giving me advice (not always good advice, but still), urging me to have fun and live life. I’ve spent so much of my waking life listening to his music. Over and over again. New songs then back to the old ones and back again. Each one is like a family member. A well remembered face that feels like home every time you hear it. Each one has its own life. Its own memory. When you first heard it. What (or who) you did while listening to it. And it’s gone. Or at least that’s what it feels like.
There’s always going to be a void now. In our hearts and in our minds. Those of us that have been on the boat for years. Have traveled to different cities and countries to see him perform. Invested so much time and money and love. How do you replace something like that? Why would you even want to?
I’m never ever going to fall in love with a band or artist like that ever again. Even if someone was able to match his output and quality I’m too old to start over. All we’ll be able to do is put on some old records and reminisce about what we use to have. “Remember that show man? That was crazy!”
The music that made me who I am is gone. And so is the man who made it. The songs are still there. And the videos. And the movies. But knowing we’ll never see him again means none of that music will ever be the same. Every ballad will make you sad in a way that wasn’t possible before and every funky bass line will be a reminder that at some point the party will be over.
And at the centre of it all is just another man. A human being. Just like you. Just like me. There may be a perceived crassness at the masses mourning a public figure. Finger pointing and sneering at those who feel a loss even though they have no relation to the deceased. An attitude I’ve held myself at times to my shame. But you should never feel ashamed of the things that make you feel anything. Whether it’s sadness or joy.
But at the end of the day it’s not his death that’s really important. Just another among billions really. It’s his life. That’s what’s important to remember (at least to me). He did more in 57 years than most of us would be able to do in 507. Sure, all we have now are memories but when it comes down to it that’s all our lives are. A series of memories. And he certainly gave us some great ones. Maybe that’s what I’m saddest about. No new memories. Not with him anyway. But we’ll always be able to keep the ones that we have and continue to cherish them and protect them and remember what life can be if we chose to live. And therein lies the lesson.
At the end of the day the sadness is not for him really, it’s for me. What I’ll be missing. How it makes me feel. My life, such as it is, won’t change much in the day to day but behind all that I think that he’ll always be there in some subtle way. The memories and the music. Guiding, advising, laughing. Sharing the good times and the bad.
I’m thankful that I was able to experience what I have. On record and in concert. I’ll be forever grateful. And forever in debt.