Wednesday, February 22, 2012

on mourning a dead star

My post a week or so ago about Whitney Houston's death elicited a comment from someone noting (favorably) the fact that I didn't call it a tragedy. I called it untimely, which I think is reasonably justifiable. A tragedy? No.

But the comment reminded me of some thoughts I have regarding how we react to musicians' deaths. To celebrity deaths in general, I guess. But this blog is ostensibly about music, so I'll try to stick to musicians. (I'll admit, I was tempted when Gary Carter died last week to post the video of "Let's Go Mets Go" so I could comment on Carter and tie it in to music.

I remember when John Lennon died. I was in high school, and many classmates were mourning. One even took a week off from school to sit shiva (the Jewish ritual of weeklong mourning over a dead relative). I never quite got this. Sure, I liked John Lennon's music -- some of it anyway. I still do. But he wasn't a messiah or a family member. He was a musician.

One may say that the problem is that I wasn't a big Lennon fan. I just admitted, afterall, in a kind of lukewarm way that I liked "some" of his music. Fair enough. I didn't mourn when Lee Brilleaux (of Dr. Feelgood) died in 1994. I felt sad about it. And there's a wistfullness as it reminds me of my own mortality and my lost youth. But I don't mourn the death of a singer and musician, however talented he may have been, whom I have never met and have never had any relationship with.

When my grandparents died, I mourned. When my parents die I will mourn. If I outlive them, I will mourn the deaths of my wife, my sister and (God forbid) my children. But musicians? My favorite musicians? Nick Lowe? Dave Edmunds? Wreckless Eric? No.

 I was called heartless and uncaring for what was perceived as a lack of sufficient grief when Lennon died. However, I think we trivialize the concept of mourning and familial closeness when we confuse our interest in a musician (even if we say "love" colloquially) with what we feel for our loved ones

1 comment:

  1. Hey Moish.

    Same anon here again and Amen to your post.

    As for your friend who sat shiva for John Lennon, I'll just chalk that up to adolescent immaturity.

    Yeah, he may have seen his "mourning" as mature compared to your seeming "indifference", but maturity is about more than experiencing emotions. It's about experiencing them for the right reasons at the right time.

    And, hey, I'm a Met fan. I think your comment above above "a wistfullness as it reminds me of my own mortality and my lost youth" sums up very well my feeling about Gary Carter's passing.

    Let's go Mets.